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It’s Modesty Season, Again…

A beach in Barcelona, pixabay user/tiburi

I’m heading out of town soon to celebrate 25 years with my esposo.

We’ll be near salt and sand, soaked in sun, and these things require a bathing suit and speaking my second language. So it made me think of the following post I wrote when we were in Spain for our 20th anniversary.

A lot has changed since then. Last time my parents and Jason’s mom tag-team cared for our kids. This time my parents are of no help at all…

Anyway, back to Spain…it was Gay Pride Week in Barcelona and all the colors were out. There was so much freedom everywhere I looked…

...and Freedom is Beautiful.

Here’s more of a post I wrote 5 years ago about modesty, swimsuit season, and freedom in my own skin. [Read more…]

Sex Ed: 101

ME: “Sweetheart, do you have five minutes?”

Him: “I always have five minutes for you.”

My husband and I both work from home. During the week, he and I tag team the morning routine of kids, food, and hygiene moderation. Then, he usually drives them to school, a 30 minute round trip event, while I get in a quick workout. (Bonus: If I’m the one driving the kids to school, I love the 5 minutes on our local classical channel where the soothing voice of Garrison Keillor tells us word-nerdy things on The Writer’s Almanac.)

Anyway, either way, after we’re both back home before 8 o’clock even rolls around, Jason makes himself a little breakfast while I finish my squats and then we have a 5-minute stand up meeting to start the day. [Read more…]

Growing Up With Bobby and Bebe: A Series

Agree to Disagree

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When my parents moved to Colorado 6 years ago, they drove in from Phoenix and walked in my front door into the kitchen where I was standing at the sink. I heard in my heart (when God tells me something, it’s something smarter than I could have thought of…), “They are here for the rest of their lives and your job is simply to love them, not try to change them.”

I think I literally glanced up at the ceiling trying to get eye contact with God, as well as position my ear better to hear the response to my rebuttal, “Even my Dad?!”   [Read more…]

Speak Love: A Series on Semantics

I heard this recently from someone concerned about Target restrooms and transgender persons and homosexuality and how important it was that people know their sins, because, “Life is short and what if they were to die tomorrow and not know they were sinners who needed a Savior?”

They were talking about an opportunity they had to talk to someone they just met about their sexuality. I listened, “Life is short, and if they were to die, what if I hadn’t taken those 5 minutes to share the Truth about their sin?”

The problem is, that isn’t the Gospel. It’s NOT the Good News, nor is it the original message Jesus pointed back to in God’s Garden. Rather, it’s a strategy, approach, and delivery of many Christians skewed by fear, fear which has snowballed into a messy slop of anxious evangelism, the opposite of the way Jesus approached His, “God WITH us,” day to day ministry. To a degree, Christianity and the Church have lapsed back into a state of religion rather than pushed on through to its original design of intimacy and freedom with God. It’s become more “us vs. them…get them into our camp…have everyone believe all the exact same things and act the specific ways we’ve mapped out so people will know us by our behavior…” rather than recognize us by our Love. Sadly, some people don’t want to have anything to do with God, which is the opposite intent of the Christian in the first place. Delivery matters…

I was asked if I even thought homosexuality was a sin, was told what the Bible says, and could open “Bible app” in case I needed to see for myself.

I listened. In my head a scenario played out of the Savior of the world kneeling down, drawing something in the dirt, waiting for sin-free people to cast stones at a woman “caught” in adultery…you know, because she didn’t know what she had done. And I wondered, “What if he was a cheating, lying, tax-evading, gossiping, animal beating, drunken drug dealer, who was also gay? Seriously, which thing should I choose to address in these 5 minutes, if this, in fact, is how we are called to steward 5 minutes with strangers we meet…? And while I’m at it, what sins of mine should I go ahead and confess to him, since I suppose I could die, too…?”

You see, I know life is short. Time is my love language and 5 minutes can mean the world. I know people can die between breaths…between the last time you talked, before you get a chance to wake up another day…but mentally and emotionally functioning through a filter of anxiousness and fear, that the world needs to be made aware of their sinful nature before they meet their Maker because they could die in the next 5 minutes, well, I can’t seem to draw the correlation between that and the commission to declare, “Good News!,” the Good News Jesus came embodying of God’s unconditional love for a hurting world. The Bible isn’t a machine gun to point at sinners. And Jesus didn’t come declaring, “In YO face, suckas!”

Nope. I wasn’t created with a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and sound mind. I won’t let fear push me around, no matter how “righteous” it looks.

So then I was asked,

“What would you say if you knew you only had 5 minutes with a person?
What if they were going to die the next day?
What would you say to them?”

What a humbling question! To even ponder the choice and precious words leaves me a bit wrecked and in awe…I will tell you, my experience with Noah radically changed this very “5-minute scenario” for me, as well as my perspective on life, and death, and loving God, myself, and others.

You see, if I knew a person still had 5 minutes to LIVE, I would hopefully savor the opportunity to speak this, if anything at all…:

“For sake of argument, let’s start with a clean slate, forget any preconceived notions, beliefs or disbeliefs.
Let’s pretend there is a God and He is really, really, really, really, so very Good.
Everything He ever did was miraculously Good and born out of love and creativity,
and the day He made YOU, in His image no less,
He said, ‘Oh Goodness, Me! SOOOOOOO GOOOOOOOOOD!

Speak love. Speak it with, and without, words.

Speak love. Speak it with, and without, words.

That way, if the person died at the end of 5 minutes, they would know Who it was they would be meeting on the other side of life on earth…the Very One who designed them, knows them best, and loves them dearly, and the two of them would have their “none of our business” conversation. There would be no need for fear because the last thing the person this side of death would know their value and worth and it was their loving, heavenly Father greeting them…

…and I just have to trust and believe God’s BIG ENOUGH to handle the details from there…

HOW THEN SHALL WE LIVE?  Every minute of every day is potentially the last 5 minutes for anyone…we all know how much we fail on any given day, which is why, I believe, Jesus said the greatest of all the things, rules, directives for life wasn’t to cast stones, call out sins, or compete and compare on a scale of religious righteousness and law-keeping, but to LOVE.

Love God. Love ourselves. Love others.

“Just keep asking God what you are supposed to do
and then be found doing it.”
Betty Biebel

 

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?! #$%^&*?

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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…

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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 Used To Think _________, But Now I Think __________.

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*The lovely, wise, tea-sipping truth-teller, Sarah Bessey, has just released her latest book, Out of Sorts: Making Peace With An Evolving Faith. You can head to her website and read posts from bloggers linking up  to share their stories of, well, feeling out of sorts, too, and how they used to think one thing, but now maybe think differently. Here’s a little of my own sorting out…


So, what does “out of sorts” mean to me? Well, first, according to Merriam-Webster, it means, “somewhat ill; grouchy or irritable.” It’s fair to call me an optimist, someone who tries to see the good in people and situations, a peacemaker at heart. So, grouchy and irritable are words I try to avoid, but instead, these sentiments I’ve embraced like old friends for several years now…even the somewhat ill…and who likes feeling sick?

Early in my journey of faith I attempted to define myself, the parameters in which I believed and practiced and trusted God, even who I did, or did not, most closely associate with. I felt it was important, or more accurately, mandatory and essential, that I clearly defined these things and made them crystal to others, mostly as a way to assure myself I was following the right Jesus. (Who on earth did I think I was?!)

I remember one day in high school, shortly after a church shift from my childhood organized Catholic roots to a “more free, non-denominational, charismatic church”, when a Conservative Southern Baptist who said she was a born-again Christian asked me if I was, too:

“Nah, girl…I’m not only that…I’m a born-again, Spirit-filled, tongue-talking, holy-rolling, demon-bashing Christian…”

BAM.

And she was all, “There’s no such thing as tongues…those gifts of the Holy Spirit only happened at Pentecost and died out with the Apostles.”

And I was all, “Oh yeah? Nuh-uh…bottahyndaishouldabottageo!” Because, not only was I super mature and in need to feel officially not “religious and organized” anymore, but I wanted to put her not Spirit-filled-ness into a category other than my officially, official “Christianity”, you know, the one with the ACTUAL corner on the market on Jesus. OH, you better believe I pulled the tape out of my secular music, didn’t serve alcohol at our wedding, and got involved in any and every form of Christian leadership in order to delineate just how committed I was to following God. Church was every Sunday morning, Sunday evening for the seriously devout, and Wednesday nights for youth. (*Disturbingly, this is where it could have all led…)

Thing is…I was, and am, in love with Jesus and knew He was in love with me. He told me as much, my spirit was alive. That part was sacred and tangible and drew me in like nothing I’d ever known. I knew this love and calling and acceptance to be much bigger than me, and that’s what has kept me in it this long…in spite of my faith shifts, in spite of all the American Evangelical white noise…His Spirit remains in me.

In total honesty, I thought I had to be right. I wanted to be right. I needed assurance of some sort of definitive in order to give my whole life to something. I didn’t want to believe some of the people I trusted on this earth who had told me certain things and taught me certain ways, could possibly have anything other than my best interest in mind.

Isn’t that how it is with anything? We want to know and believe we made the right choice with our time, hearts, energy, even how we spend money. No one wants to believe they bought a lemon in good conscience, just like I didn’t want to believe that years of spiritual training and discipleship could be anything but worthy of my soul investment. I wouldn’t knowingly consume garbage! I used to think if a person held a Bible, stood at a pulpit, and said the Lord had told them something, then, indeed, the good Lord had…now I think God gave me a mind and the discernment of the Holy Spirit to think critically and experience God personally, discerning light from darkness.

Experience God

 …

I’m thankful for the day in chapel my freshman year of college when a popular, famous healing preacher came to town. So many things were going on around me, people having encounters with God, and some of it seemed chaotic and forced. I closed my eyes and reached out to heaven,

“Father, I’ve seen a lot and You alone know how messed up and perverted my church background is…I don’t want to throw away the baby with the bath water…LORD, I WANT YOU. Lord, I want to take away from this day and my time here at college all that You have designed for me…and I want to forget and forgive the rest…I don’t want to get crusty over the names of “famous” Christians, I just want to know You powerfully and intimately…fill me with Your Spirit so I may follow You…”

This pivotal conversation became a catalyst for me, a new filter through which I’ve been looking at God, myself, and others, over the last 25+ years. I mess up. I’ve gotten it wrong. There are days when I’ve been irritable and grouchy and sick to my stomach by, one, feeling like the Church is totally blowing it, and two, being labeled and lumped into certain “sects” of Christianity. I used to believe I was different and special…now I believe I need more work on my heart than the next guy.

For 15 years now I’ve been reading one chapter of the Bible pretty consistently. I named my radio show after it, started a women’s ministry in the same name, helped fundraise for wells in foreign countries, and have spoken quite a bit on the topic of God’s Spirit and Living Water. It’s about a woman at a well who meets Jesus. A lot of people have read it or heard of it. The most beautiful part: she becomes her true self, her child-of-God self, upon this encounter with the living God.

BUT, before the story begins, before she even comes on the scene in verse 7, there’s a story and context that leads up to the encounter at the well:

Jesus realized that the Pharisees were keeping count of the baptisms that he and John performed (although his disciples, not Jesus, did the actual baptizing). They had posted the score that Jesus was ahead, turning him and John into rivals in the eyes of the people. So Jesus left the Judean countryside and went back to Galilee. To get there he had to pass through Samaria…”

(*color and emphasis, mine…)

I used to think this chapter was only about a woman at a well and her induction into real living…now I know it’s also about graciously walking away from what seemingly divides us, right into the middle of what seemingly divides us, and embracing that, because of Christ, we’re all on the same team, even if we are a little all out of sorts.

In Which I Tread Into Politics

Oh dear. The yelling on both sides is deafening.
Meanwhile, I’m over here, all, “Hey, I’m totally voting for Kid President!!!”

So, I am a grown adult. Like, I’ve been voting for 25 years now. Originally I registered with the same party my parents did, because, hullo? In my young mind, Reagan and my childhood were idyllic. Familiarity, the fact that voting was scary and bore weight and responsibility, and if my parents had identified with one party and I respected and loved them, well, that must mean I should vote the same, Doesn’t it?

Plus, a subliminal message at the time from my “community of faith” (not my parents), was implied, “You’re only a real Christian if you are a conservative Republican.”

Well, I sure as heck wanted to make sure I didn’t lose my way following Jesus on account of my earthly political affiliation…because that can happen, right?!??

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The years passed. One day at church I invited a couple of girls to meet at a coffee shop so we could get to know one another. It became an every Monday night date as we spent hours sharing our stories and what following Christ looked like for us. One of my friends shared about her journey of being a Jesus-follower and how it included loving people different than her.

“Of course,” I thought. “Of course you love people who are different from you…you are a Christian…that’s what Jesus modeled for us. I do, too.”

And then she told me she was a registered Democrat.

I was like, “Wait. What? How can you be a Democrat and a Christian?
What about the babies?”

She shared her heart about how she follows Jesus, not a political system where people are trying to set up laws in the land to influence people’s moral choices. “Only God can know our hearts,” she had said. She told us she doesn’t agree with killing people, babies or in wartime, but trusting in laws set up by a government cannot minister to the heart and soul of a person created in the image of God. That’s heart-to-heart work that has to be done in laying down our lives for others, not fighting through a system for our own rights at the expense of another.

And this made sense to me. It sounded Jesus-esque. It sounded like the Good News I remembered loving and pouring over ‘til late hours of the morning as a new believer and follower of Christ. It reminded me of the Red Letter Words in the New Testament, spoken by Jesus, rather than the human-tainted messages that had been filling up my head ever since.

I decided to explore what I believed, rather than only accepting what others and my circles of life, preached. I started paying attention more, not just to politics, the local news, and world happenings, but mostly to my heart and the pursuit of living a life that more closely reflected the Life of the One I claimed to follow…I started filtering ALL OF IT THROUGH THIS THING: Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself…like a litmus test of fruit-bearing for myself, checking my heart with the way Jesus treated people, not buying into man’s political systems and polarizing camps.

I started paying attention to peoples’ stories rather than their stereotypes.”

I’ve been reminded of Daniel and his friends in Babylon, living as exiles because God allowed it, for years living there, yet not trying to change the system, but rather praying for the people there, praying for, and serving, the leadership, for their well-being as in Jeremiah 29:7, and reaping the benefits of what happens when you pray for your enemies.

A few months before my Mom died she said, “You are a hippie, aren’t you?” This she said with a smile and in love. Her words had life, the part about “hippie” that bears the Free Love of God, not the acid and bellbottoms.

I had just told her, “Mom, we are ALL souls, made in God’s image…every single one of us. How can we keep walking around labeling each other and boxing one another into stereotypes, trying to make laws and cast votes to feel better about our moral choices when God calls US ALL His beloved? That can’t be politicized! He showed us how to love radically. Jesus didn’t come through a political system then, and He’s not returning that way either.”

I don’t have all the answers, but I know my identity, value, worth, and eternal grace from God, are not found in a political system or by aligning myself with a political party. I identify as a child of God. People on both polar extremes of our political spectrum also do, as well as millions of those in between…and there isn’t a law in the land that can know the heart of a person, but there is a loving Creator who does, and He is big enough.

 

 

(photo credit: pixabay user/dweedon1)

Have You Ever Felt Labeled?

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A Short Series: My Personal Opinions

In this short series I’m going to share some things I’m passionate about, but don’t change the core of my message nor are they central to who I am, meaning, in the light of eternity, I don’t find my identity in these things. These opinions, though strongly held, are ones I love talking about with others, hearing differing opinions and views, trying to understand why it is someone feels equally as passionate about their angle, as I do my own.

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So what is the core of my life message? What would I shout from the rooftops if the world was the stage? What, if everyone could hear and understand the words from my lips, would I say?

photo credit: user goranmax, pixabay

photo credit: user goranmax, pixabay

OH MY GOSH, THIS, and THIS ALONE:

“GOOD NEWS!

God’s totally in love with you!

He is real and good and He made you and when He did,

He said it was GOOD…so very GOOD!”

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That’s the elevator version, say if we only had a 15 second ride up a few floors.

BUT, if we got off on the same floor and you said, “Tell me more, because all I’ve ever heard is how I’m a sinner, I’ve never heard the version you mentioned…or I don’t believe there is a God, nor do I see a need, the whole idea is for the weak…or I mostly believe what you said but there are some radical extremists that call themselves “Christians” and so I’m totally not about to associate with those wackos…or what “god” are you talking about here, because everyone and their dog is claiming “him” as their own?”, then we would find a window and some comfy chairs and I would ask you to share your heart with me. I would want to know what you have heard, what you believe, how you came to such conclusions, you know, really hear your heart. Then, if you were open to it, I’d say, “What if God really isn’t a dictator jerk and doesn’t fit into a box and doesn’t act anything like the people who claim His name to back their behavior? What if He is more love and grace and goodness than you could ever imagine and He wants you to get to know Him the way He wants to be known, not like others have painted Him?”

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I’d start out to say I won’t pretend to know all the answers…I mean, how could I? God made me, I didn’t make Him, so for me to say I know exactly how God works and then try to wrap Him neatly between quotes and references would be ridiculous. But, of this, I am certain: He is good and totally in love with us, every single one.

I mean, how could He not be? He made us in His image and said, “It is GOOD.”

And then maybe we would just sit with that for a while. Wonder about God’s love, relish the idea that He made us and is in love with us, just as we are, and said it was good…

…and then another day I’d tell you some of my personal opinions, but today and everyday, this part is the Good News.

Here Goes Nothing…

First of all, thank you guys for all the encouraging feedback, cheering me on to write. Don’t get me wrong. I love writing, but the practice of writing is something I’ve been out of for quite some time. This challenge came to me from some new friends in a blogging workshop I’m taking. There are no guidelines as to how content makes it onto a page each day, the gist of the exercise is just that: to exercise, to practice, to make writing daily intention. Today is my first day and my intention is to write each morning for that particular day, but I foresee some days when I may be able to write a few pieces or go through my drafted archives, clean things up a bit, and bring life to those. Honestly, I’m writing this paragraph just to get warmed up and I know it was boring to read.

I’m actually just typing stuff right now because, I kid you not, the moment I made my entry into the group official, my brain went blank.

Nothing. Nothing except writer’s block…deer in the headlights.

A friend from California texted me yesterday, asking about the challenge, mulling over if this is a good time to start the blog she’s always wanted to write. I told her how I had suddenly developed writer’s block.

“Write about writer’s block,” said the girl who’s been talking about starting a blog for years.

Then this is what the rest of our conversation looked like:

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So, apparently I may write about cults during this challenge, too, who knows?

It hit me last night that the last time I wrote for 31 days in a row, it was while our son, Noah, was in the hospital. I had a lot more time in my life to sit and ponder way back then…and some of the entries of the next 31 days were birthed even back then.

I almost quit this whole challenge and blogging thing altogether yesterday. I’m not kidding. I’ve thought about hanging it up for probably 5 of the last 9 years, not every day, but many times…more on that in another post…

Let me ask you this…Have you ever felt so passionately about something, but the details it would take to make the thing happen seem insurmountable and aren’t even part of your scope of capability, so you wonder if it’s worth the time and energy? For example, I have a couple of friends who are doctors who started their own practices. Their hearts and gifts to heal people are spot-on, totally God-given, but the paper work that goes along with owning their own businesses near suffocates them at times.

That’s how I’ve felt about blogging…I LOVE it! I fell in love with authentic, candid writing in the last thought of sacred place ever. Noah’s hospital room was the safest and most vulnerable space for my heart, yet it felt right and the words began to flow out of me. His life and death brought about a sort of resurrection to the kind of writing I had once loved before I BS’d my way through high school and college papers simply for grades.

The practice of writing became a rhythm and it felt wonderful, but I could have done that in a Word document or a journal.

But blogging? Oh, you guys, blogging was interactive, there were other people who would show up, share their guts, as well, say, “ME, TOO!” or “I totally disagree but would love to discuss…” and my heart would swell. It was LIVE and RAW and UNFILTERED and suddenly I realized the things that went through my mind and onto the screen also connected to the hearts of real people on literally every single continent. And for a middle child who loves it when everyone shows up and gets along, it was epically mind blowing! The problem is, even though people would comment and share a bit of their lives, I, true story, didn’t know how to reply to them unless via a personal email. There was no “reply” button back in the olden days of blog world, at least not the way mine had been set up initially. And it got overwhelming. One. Little. Button. Had so much power to discourage me.

I’m telling you, I’ve written on a blog for 9 years now, but I’ve never known HOW to blog.

Then blogs were lighting up everywhere and there were great places where people could gather and interact and show up to laugh and cry and encourage and challenge one another. It was cool and weird at the same time to be able to connect to breathing humans in other parts of the country and world. I mean, I was born in 1972…to connect with people we used to walk next door and knock and ask, “Can Stacey come out and play?” I was working and writing through my grief, finding healing with each word I’d crank out, but I started listening to lies in my head, like, “Well, Noah’s dead so no one’s going to want to read here anymore. There are plenty of awesome other women who are a ton more fun and encouraging on the Web right now…you’re too raw and brassy…opinionated and loud…” And, to be perfectly honest, it was a battle in both directions: it wasn’t the attention the blog drew, it was the potential interaction with souls all over the world, and I wanted to care for and nurture and encourage ALL OF THEM, but I mostly wanted to sit crossed legged on a couch side by side or fall on our faces together on the floor and cry, but tangibly. And on the other side, some people would email me or comment and say, “Adrienne, you haven’t written in a couple of days (*I had written several times a day for 5 1/2 months while Noah was hospitalized.) and I come here to your blog to read it as a devotional.”

So, in my stubbornness, I pulled away from writing regularly. Seriously. A healing outlet where I found oxygen again, I pulled away out of stubbornness because of a couple comments, meant to be encouraging, like, “Adrienne, thanks for all you’ve written here…it’s come to be a place of refuge and quiet for me every day.” That I instead read, “Adrienne, you need to be more consistent. I’m addicted to this reality show you are living and you are messing with my programming.”

Jacked, right? I know. Though there could have been truth in either interpretation.

So, what the heck am I trying to say in this way too long post and why am I doing this exercise of writing? Well, a friend on Facebook who was a student at the college where I used to work mentioned me in a comment one day. I clicked on her link and saw the beautiful Jen Hatmaker’s mug shot on the screen where she pitched, without kickbacks, a very convincing few paragraphs of how, “there’s room for everyone at the table, how if you’ve ever wanted to blog or have blogged but were clumsy at it, there was this workshop by this guy who was brilliant and a smarty-pants, a way to take the drudgery out of blogging by learning some key things which would pay the likely returns of JOY in the process”…or something to that effect.

And I cried. I cried and read every word on the first sample lesson.

What? Jen Hatmaker thinks there’s room for everyone? Even me?

But seriously, even more, I have said to Jason a zillion times, “Sweetheart, I just want to write. Is there such a thing as me just writing and the technical stuff took care of itself? Like, someone could just show me how to do the actual act of blogging and then I’d just be able to freaking do it!”

So, here I am. And I’m no longer believing the lies there isn’t room for me just because I may not fit a mold, because it’s one of my own soapboxes:

WE ALL HAVE A STORY AND THERE’S ROOM FOR ALL OF US.