I could start with all the pseudo impressive stuff you would expect to learn on a page like this. I do have degrees that took a long time and I have had jobs you might admire, if you don’t know how I stress over doing every single tiny thing exactly right. I have been all over the world and seen many things that you might want to see. . . well, if you are willing to take the red eye and stay in places in which your mother would not approve. I have a history in ministry and life that might impress you, that is, if I leave much of it out. I am intelligent, at least all my teachers and professors thought so. However, if you talk to those closest to me, they would tell you that for all my intellect, I lack a certain common sense that sometimes gets me into messes. . . big messes. I am healthy, if you call red wine and tortillas a grain and fruit diet.
But that is all simply the stuff of me. What I really want you to know is that I have lived a while. I have been on this earth over 50 years now and I have seen some things. I have also felt some things. I have known crazy joy, the kind of joy that makes your chest hurt so much you must find someone to hug it out. I have known the deepest sadness as loss and pain ripped my center from itself and I fell, soul bleeding, on the floor, unable to rise. Fear was my constant guardian for many years, and anger was its mistress. Together they messed up my thoughts and my body until they both shook when I perceived a threat, whether real or unreal. I have been a people pleaser, a relentless perfectionist , and have prided my self in all the pomp that goes with that arrogance. I have been humbled and humiliated and found my own actions often make me foolish. I’ve been hurt in ways that would make your stomach cramp and I have hurt others in ways that makes mine do the same.
In all that I have seen, felt and done; in all that I have experienced and had done to me; in all of the stuff of life; I have learned a little bit. I have recovered a great bit and I have discovered enough about life that I am grateful to have lived this long. I have come to know that I often don’t know and I have learned to live with that. I was much smarter, when I was 20, than I am now. I have discovered, in three more decades of doing and being, that concepts and ideas are not what real life is made of, for real life is not a concept and is profoundly more than any idea I ever have of what it should be.
To know me, you would have to sit and have coffee or wine (depending on the time of day) on my dusty porch. I don’t trust social media. People lie on social media. Everyone. Even those deeply spiritual people who post verses and flip sayings that are meant to answer all of life’s unanswerable questions. I prefer eyeball to eyeball, tear to tear, smile to smile and honesty to honesty. Realness is my craving. Authenticity my addiction. To be a people who bravely are who we are, this is my hope, for it is only in that raw reality that souls can connect. That is what we all hold as our deepest desire, though we all too often hide it behind an Iphone or computer. I know the risks of reality, and having taken them, been crushed like a flower under a horse hoof. However, I have also smelled the sweetness of the scent that comes from crushing the beauty out of a lily. It releases a smell one can experience no other way. Thus, I choose to risk the pain, for, if it comes, in it I can also find what sweetness is to be experienced.
Lets talk. I share my thoughts. Please, share yours. We can’t have coffee yet, but I am always willing to pour for you if you are brave enough to set down the stuff of your hiding as I am choosing to set down mine. Until you are ready to brave the dust of my porch, lets honestly discuss. Here, and other places too.
We will discover together, in the midst of our inexpiable, overwhelming, sometimes fabulous and sometimes ferocious lives, that there are some tried and true things left in this world. Lets find God in all of it and talk about how, oh how, we can understand and relate to him when life is what it is.
Come. You are wanted.
Just in case you are dying to know, this is pseudo impressive stuff of my life:
Penni Elaine is pastor of Burney Presbyterian Church, situated in the mountains of Norther California. She holds a Master of Divinity from Tozer Seminary and teaches World Religions as well as co-teaching Evangelism and Cultural Engagement for the same. She has been in ministry for 30 years in both para church and church organizations. She has a deep love of community and works toward bringing people together as well as a heart that seeks to heal the broken spirited of her world. She prefers the retreat and seminar format when speaking or teaching, for it gives her a chance to get to know people in a place they chose and are most likely to lay down their stuff and admit their true self.
She is married to the love of her life, Tim Scarbrough, whom she considers her greatest source of strength. Together they do the work of the ministry and face the world as it faces them. Together, she and Tim have five children, Two of whom are married and who have gifted them with four perfect, beautiful and brilliant grandchildren (no, she is not prejudiced, she really believes this is truth). She also has a whole community of people who share her life in family. In her world, the older women are grandmas, the older men grandpas, and the others are aunties and uncles. If you counted all that she claims as hers, she is mother to many and grandmother to more.
She raises German Shepherd Dogs and trains them as service animals, for she loves life and loves creatures of all kinds. German Shepherds, she believes, are a gift of God to those who are unable to do all things for themselves. You never know when she will have a training puppy at her side or have her own male GSD, Shua, following her around the church or her current activity.
Her life’s goal is to teach people how to see God, and to love him and each other with true, honest, committed vigor. Life, according to Penni, is more than a series of events. It’s a force, thought up by the Creator, and written within us. Life is what we are meant to live abundantly, and to live it we must know its author. Prayer is her highest calling and teaching a close second. She will love you no matter what you have done, for as she says, “Nothing surprises me, because when someone confesses, I have to admit to my self, to them and to God, I have probably done what they have done, only twice.”
If you are interested in Penni as a speaker, please contact her!