Welcome one and all.
I am so excited to join in what is one my favorite blogging traditions — the “What I’m In To” trend. Each week I plan on sharing a summary of stories I have found and shared. These posts will be our community’s “Townhall Meeting,” where I hope others will join me in laughing, crying, and catching up. Feel free to grab a cup of coffee and a snack. Settle in as I have so much to share with you all. From the blogosphere, to Facebook, to Twitter, to Google, to my inbox — I might as well go ahead and admit it, when it comes to stories I am an addict.
This week I have been challenged, inspired, outraged, humbled, shrieked with laughter, moved to tears.
People’s stories are breathtakingly beautiful.
How could I not be changed? How could anyone not be?
Please click on the titles of each excerpt for a link to the quoted author and post.
Around the Blogosphere:
I did not shed their gifts – the gifts of my Gospel preaching Southern Baptist, Evangelical, Holy Ghost, Small Group, Praise and Worship, Coffee Bars and Social Justice years. I am all of those streams. They are all inside me. They are all part of who I am. They do not erase each other. They do not negate each other. They flow in and out of each other, they strengthen each other, and I live out of the best parts of all of them. ~ Jerusalem Jackson Greer
This is an excerpt from a guest post that Jerusalem Jackson Greer did over at Rachel Held Evans Blog this past week. It touched my soul and brought tears instantly. For being someone who embraced so passionately each season of life I have been through. Yes, even the worst parts. I look back now and it often aches, because while I want to move away from the bad, the painful, and the ugly — there was still so much good. There was love, there was beauty, there were deep friendships, there was laughter, there was excitement, there was genuine desire. What do I do with all of that? How do I move forward in such a different season, honestly recognizing and voicing what I now believe is wrong, while also never forgetting the people and moments of grace that were there too. What do we do when life is such a messy story? I think Jerusalem has found a way.
And so Pentecost means that there’s no telling what might happen someday in the future. But maybe Pentecost also means that since some experiences of God’s Spirit just can’t be planned for or conjured up or contained, there’s no dishonor in showing up honestly with whatever faith or lack of faith we might have today. ~ The Rev. Scott Walters
This past week I started Brian McLaren’s book, “We Make the Road by Walking,” and given it is written around the church calendar I started in chapter 40 based on last Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, June 8th. I stumbled across this sermon posted online from an Episcopalian church in Little Rock, Arkansas. It touched me in how it brought the concept of Pentecost and made it tangible for wherever you find yourself — thriving, questioning, doubting, hurting, and everything in between.
Around his first birthday, my son and I were sitting on the bed. I was lying on my side, and he was sitting with his back to me. As we sat there, and I watched him play with a ball, I was struck by a thought. ‘One day, I hope he has the courage to tell me how I’ve failed him. And I hope I have the courage to listen.’ ~ Nate Pyle
This past weekend, many around the world celebrated Father’s Day. I came across this post, and was inspired by its challenging concepts. Parenthood is something that I look forward to some day, and this gives me a vision that its possible. I have seen this kind of love and humility in my own parents, and I can only imagine how difficult it is. Right now, I only can identify with the child in the scenario, and I know its frighteningly difficult to risk hurting someone you love so much by sharing the truth. But I have found that relationships built on vulnerability and love beyond our hurts and mistakes are the only ones worth truly having. May we all have the courage to listen to those loved ones in our lives — we will be better because of it.
Jesus said that all of the law and the prophets were summed up in two commands: Love God, and love others as you love yourself. That’s not just a summary for Jesus, it is at the same time the aim of Scripture: The Bible is intended to lead us to love God, others, and ourselves. ~ Derek Flood
For someone who has gone through an extensive season of questioning everything I was taught growing up about the inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture, I found comfort in this post this week. When your only view of scripture is one of legalism, judgment, us-versus-them mentality, and an exhausting set of rules to follow — trying to find a way to read it with a new perspective is one of the most difficult things to learn. How can one compilation from so long ago contain so much. How can it bring me to tears, fill me with peace, and in the next moment rip my heart out? I have found that it takes much more courage for me to read with open eyes, truly questioning and truly understanding Scripture with all of its complexities, cultural contexts, brutalities, prejudices, contradictions, truths, beauty, redemption, conviction, and hope.
How the Worst Moments in Our Lives Make Us Who We Are
Forge meaning. Build identity. ~ Andrew Solomon
* Warning: Shares some sexual abuse and sexually graphic content
I came across this Ted Talk this week and I watched it with an ever growing lump in my throat. I cried. I laughed. I learned. This man’s life and story speak volumes for the meaning and identity he has built out of suffering and adversity. What speaks to me even more is how he makes that applicable to any one of us. A challenge to take our experiences, our past, our stories — all that they entail and to build meaning into our lives. This gives me hope. This reminds me of a man who also touched people’s lives and pain and filled their stories with meaning. From a woman’s last two coins, to a woman deemed worth stoning, to a leper deemed an outcast, to a Roman soldier, to a seeking Nicodemus, to a self-righteous Saul — Jesus met people where they were and filled their life with meaning and identity.
I am a newbie to the Twitter world. I had no idea how inspiring, how powerful, how precious of a community it could be. Some of you may have seen this series of events transpire this week, but for those of you who didn’t, I encourage you to go see the story played out below.
On June 12th, Christianity Today’s online Leadership Journal posted an article by a youth pastor now in prison telling his story of adultery that ruined his life. A story that he shared portraying a consensual relationship and affair that he fell into. This story was shared as a warning to other pastors. Why you might ask then, was this man in prison? Who goes to jail for having an affair? The truth — he was having an “affair” with a minor in his youth group. This was no “affair.” The law says this was statutory rape. Experienced voices know this was abuse of power and sexual abuse. And yet this man was given a platform to millions of Christians to share his version of the story.
What happened next is true courage and redemption on display for all to see.
— Tamara Barrick Rice (@TamaraRice) June 12, 2014
Thanks to Tamara Barrick Rice, people took up the campaign of #TakeDownThatPost to call Christianity Today out and hold them accountable for the damaging message that article truly portrayed.
When Women Will Not Be Silenced http://t.co/QgP5OQP3Pu
— Dianna E Anderson (@diannaeanderson) June 15, 2014
Only three days later, Christianity Today took down that post. They posted an apology that was refreshingly honest and sincere. You can read it here . Dianna Anderson reminded us all how the beauty of voices raised together can accomplish something truly great.
— Mary DeMuth (@MaryDeMuth) June 16, 2014
Then to come completely full circle, on June 16th, Christianity Today, reached out in humility and gave a platform to this courageous woman. There are no words. This is grace. This is redemption.
From my Heart:
This week has been a whirlwind. It has been scary, humbling, nerve-racking, thrilling, exciting, and more. Sharing my stories brings such a mixture of emotions.
I shared about my best friend Mark and how his story changed my life in “The Walls of My Closet.”
I began Brian McLaren’s book, “We Make the Road” and shared my initial thoughts in a post on Pentecost.
Thank you to each of you who took the time to come on this journey with me.
Well for those of you still with me, I hope you have found a story that has encouraged you, moved you, and maybe even inspired you to go out and share your untold story. I would love to hear from you!
Which story touched you the most?
Which story challenged you?
What have you found this past week?
What untold story do you have to share?