Author Archives: Michelle Hess

“There are no women on my theology bookshelf…”


maggi dawn

Last year on Twitter, someone wrote to me “there are no women on my theology bookshelf. Who should I read?”.

I followed up with a blog list, and was pleased to discover that without even looking up from my screen I could easily think of well over a hundred female theologians, ecclesiastical historians, biblical scholars, sociologists of religion, and others who figure on the theological landscape. More names appeared when I actually looked at my own bookshelf.

Replies flooded in through the comments, adding many more names of women authors – both academic and devotional, theoretical and practical, in every area of the theological landscape. Now the academic year is about to begin again, one or two people have mentioned the post again as a resource – so, incomplete though it is, here is the updated blog post with names added from the comments section.

10897776_469733266514841_7639664988515007378_nWhen people ask about “women…

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Unconditional Love Brings Death


It ain’t easy, this love thing…

The Upside Down World

Unconditional-LoveI’ve come across a number of Christians lately who are questioning the impulse to elevate love above any other concern. Love is too soft and squishy, they say. Love becomes an excuse to avoid hard things like confronting sin and enforcing discipline. One writer even asked if we are in danger of making love an idol. (Perhaps he hasn’t gotten to the part where the bible says that God IS love?!?) 

I have something to tell you about people who say that love is squishy, soft, a cop-out: quite clearly, such a person has never actually attempted to love unconditionally. Loving unconditionally is the hardest thing any human being can ever try to do. Confronting sin? Upsetting friends and family? Setting boundaries and rules? Pffftttt . . . . Those are the simplest, most natural things in the world for the fallen human mind to do. Loving unconditionally? That WILL…

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Running with Listening in Mind


running legsI went running a few days ago and it was an amazing experience! I haven’t had a regular running practice in over a year due to injury. The last time I ran, over 3 months ago, I barely made it a quarter mile before an old calf injury flared up and I had to hobble home.

I really love running. One reason is because of my fond memories of it as a youth soccer player, as well as, a stint running track and cross-country (I couldn’t hack the individual pressure back then as a 13 year old, made it through one season and continued on with my team sport!). I’ve continued running on and off my whole adult life with very long stretches (years) of not doing any at all.

The first time I get out there after a long break I remember what I love about it so much. It just feels good in my muscle memory, fills me with positive body chemicals and gives me a sense of accomplishment. Plus, when you haven’t been able to run for long periods due to severe multiple injuries or other factors, you don’t take it for granted when the joy of this type of movement is given back to you again. I take it for the gift that it is.

Don’t get me wrong, I need my yoga, but my heart flies when I run–Which is actually really good, because I am so slow that is the only thing that is flying!

Our dirt road


I only ran about a mile on our dirt road that day, but that was more than I expected I could do in the midday heat. My former inner athlete wanted to go farther and push it, but I listened to my body and stopped when my back started giving me some twingy signals.

My thighs were so sore within 48 hours, I had to move very slowly when changing position from sitting to standing. Hilarious. Even the pain made me happy.

I’ll be taking this really slow this time, especially since I’m coming off a bizarre hip injury (from moving) and I’ll be sure to visit my chiropractor regularly. Fortunately, he knows how to shove my ITB back into the origin and insertion points when my muscle goes weak. That seems to happen a lot. Sigh.

But, I love it, so I keep coming back to it. My attitude is changed even more since my last season of running trails. I listened to my body then, but still pushed it too hard, because I ignored it! Now I’ve learned some better strategies for tuning into what my body is telling me and actually acting on that.

Interestingly enough, the coaching I did last spring on being a mindful eater has translated into all other areas of my life. I find that the principals I use in my own coaching business, also, have that same expanding effect.

What have you been discovering about yourself lately? Any news? I would love to hear about it!

Here’s to happy running!pink running shoes


B.A.B. #2: Can I Push You Over?

A karate student wearing a karategi

A karate student wearing a karategi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Alexander stood towering over Joey, his 6 foot frame stretched and reaching, fist balled over Joey’s cowering head.  Everyone was looking at them frozen in this position.

The fourth and fifth grade students were spread around the classroom standing up wondering what was coming next.  They had just twisted their bodies to demonstrate the states of passivity and aggression.

“Everyone, stand like a soldier at attention—like this,” I demonstrated. “Put your legs and feet together, chest up, back straight…I’m going to come around and see if how strong you are.”

The students smiled and then giggled as one by one, I lightly pushed on their shoulders and they lost their balance. Some would have fallen over if I hadn’t put counter pressure on the other shoulder.

The boys and girls stand around shuffling as they realize they aren’t alone and that everyone was unstable in the soldier position.

“OK, now let’s try it a different way.  Spread your feet apart, up to a foot’s worth.”

The teacher and I went around adjusting the stances even wider, especially with the girls.

“Now, take a deep breath, let it out, stand up straight and roll your shoulder up and back,” I instructed. “Don’t hold your breath, keep breathing naturally. You should be standing straight, but also be relaxed. Bend your knees slightly, so that they aren’t locked. “

Again, we assisted the students in adjusting their positions.

“Let’s take a deep breath all together and as we breathe out let’s imagine we are pushing the air all the down into the ground below us. Pretend that you have roots coming out of the bottom of your feet, just like a large tree. These roots extend down for at least six feet. As you breathe you are pushing those strong roots down even further.”

As I was talking, I began circling the room. “As I come around, I am going to see if I can move you out of your spot again, just like last time. Let’s see if there is any difference.”

One by one, the students easily stood strong while I firmly pushed against their shoulders. Large smiles were my reward as they realized that they were able to stand strong against my pressure.

“Ah , see how strong you are Julie? Like a rock. There is no moving you!”

Then, I came to a boy that wasn’t able to stand firm. “We are trying to figure out why Rogelio is moving,” the teacher explained. “We think it is because he is still breathing from his chest.”

“Yes, Rog, your breath needs to go deep; all the way down to the end of those super long imaginary roots.” As he changed his breathing he was much steadier in his stance.

“Boys and girls, you just learned about grounding yourself in your strength. This is a position you can put yourself in anytime you want to feel powerful, but calm at the same time. This is your place of strength that is not based on anger or aggression. Also, you aren’t pretending to be strong, standing like a soldier, you really ARE strong.”

Every time, I do this exercise with students (as young as kindergarten), they love to see the transformation as they see they aren’t toppled over by me. And I push against them pretty hard when they are in the grounded position.

Learning the difference between deep strength and the look of strength ties in with the social-emotional lessons on assertiveness versus passivity or aggression. The kids discover how their bodies react in various situations, finding out how that feels with the energy in their bodies, as various hormones and arousal actions take place. The rush of adrenaline-laced power juxtaposes itself against the centered unmovable power that still allows them the use of their critical thinking skills.

The Previous post in this series is Here:

B.A.B #1 Power, Joy & Strength

English: Hope Solo

English: Hope Solo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This morning while I lay in bed awake at 4:30 am, the words Power, Joy and Strength were running through my mind. Recently, I watched an informercial on athletic workout DVDs that focused on giving a person the hard work out of an elite athlete. Olympic athletes, like Apollo Ono and Hope Solo, were in the video promoting it. On the topic of power, Ono commented that without explosive power at the end of a race, power that you can draw on when your muscles are absolutely exhausted, you won’t be winning any gold medals.

We need to develop that type of power in our lives when we accomplish various tasks also. We might not have the pressure of an Olympic medal hanging over us, but we can still use the same idea.

To get the power, you train and push yourself beyond your limits, when you are exhausted at the end and want to quit. Then of course, you recover from that workout, so that your Strength builds also. This is nothing like pushing yourself beyond your limits on the road to burnout.

This is strategically planned and executed for the maximum results. A vital part of any training is the rest period. Without that, you’ll never reach your potential.

I like being practical and having techniques and tools and strategies that are effective to advance in my goals in life. It is important to have a roadmap, so you actually arrive at your destination one day. Now, I love a good rabbit hole and less traveled road as any person with an adventurous spirit, but there are times I have to contain myself with some parameters so that I don’t wander so far off course (which can be very exciting) that I never arrive. Life is about the process and I get that, but my world view does not include endless reincarnations of the soul. There comes a point when this dimension of life is over and your soul, yourself, moves on to another dimension of eternity.  Getting to that point is the ultimate end in a sense. Metaphors involving running the race and finishing strong are sprinkled all through the writings of St. Paul.

That tension of living in the process, in the present moment, for that is all we have really, we can’t live in the past or future, combined with having an actual completion of this phase of life as we know it here on earth…well, that tension is challenging to live within. If you are too focused on crossing the finish line, so to speak, you miss everything that makes up your “life” in the here and now.

There can be no joy without being here now. Joy is not something that you run after, instead you invite it in during the mundane and exciting details of your everyday life. There has to be joy experienced, allowed, absorbed during the process or there really never is any joy at all

Joy can be found in all situations and states of being, although some are a lot harder than other to see it. Those elite athletes didn’t always experience joy doing their grueling workouts, but many times they did. The joy of concentration, effort and pain, even, are all included. The afterglow of joy in the sense and actuality of the accomplishment is also a part of this.

©Michelle Hess, 2012, All Rights Reserved

Bloggin’ a Book FYI


I’m taking up the challenge to get off my derriere and blog a book draft. This challenge comes from Nina Amir at

Just so you know, this is going on my personal blog AND the posts will be in ROUGH draft form. I’m not editing until after I produce. It’s faster that way and much easier for me. So please excuse the non-edited posts! You can just ignore them or help me and provide editorial or content feedback!

The goal is an average of 250 words a day and I started on November 1st. I will upload my first posts tonite. So if this doens’t interest you, just ignore the posts with the Bloggin’ a Book title!


PS. I don’t spelling, grammar, etc. corrections, but thanks anyway!