Friday, October 2, 2015

A Fall Tradition

The sun is barely peaking through the clouds, the ground is dappled with yellow and red leaves and a cold breeze is shuffling through the trees. We've yet to turn our heart on, but I feel the chill of Winter well on it's way, as signs of Fall surround us at every turn. It is my favorite season, both for the festivities and the traditions, and for the reminder that all things pass in time. 

In celebration of the season, our family has started an annual Fall Party. Tonight, we host our third year of friends gathered around the fire pit, kids running in piles of hay and bobbing for apples, decadent s'more bars and delicious soups from every mama's kitchen filling our bellies. And in honor of the festivities awaiting us this evening, I thought I would share some photos of last year's Fall Party with you. May you find inspiration to start your own traditions around the fire, gathered with friends, celebrating life and the beauty of Fall. 

For an easy Fall display, station your S'more Bar against a fence and use an old white sheet to cover a folding table or a board on sawhorses. Then grab some pails and boxes and anything that catches your eye, and experiment with turning them upside down or sideways to use to set food on. Framed, hand-written signs and simple pennant banners add the perfect finishing touches!

Our little fire buddy, and me before chopping all my hair off and bleaching it blonde! 

A few close-ups of the S'more bar and one of the best additions to any marshmallow roasting party: A Sticky Finger Station! 

Last but not least, our hay pit AKA Piles of Pure Fun! 

Wishing you & your loved ones a wonderful Fall season this year!

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Monday, September 28, 2015


For the past few Mondays, I've been featuring selections from my new book, One Slender Thread. If you missed previous weeks, be sure to check out selections here and here. And if you are interested in reading the whole book, you can purchase it on Amazon today! Now, I have another selection to share with you from a chapter aptly named, Weight.


When I was ten, my family owned an old white Chevy station wagon, complete with wood paneling, brown leather throughout and seats that flipped up in the back to face each other. My siblings and I loved that station wagon, and always called dibs on getting to sit in the “way back.” That meant both being out of hearing distance from my mother and face-to-face with one another: friends and accomplices. We loaded up, my three sisters and I - plus the extra five or so kids that my mom babysat on a regular basis - during a time before car seats or booster seats, when it was acceptable to sardine kiddos all in a row, strapped two per seatbelt.

My mother has always been frugal and holds tightly, to this day, to a smorgasbord of rules and old wives’ tales on how to conserve money. She was a master at stretching our grocery budget in order to feed our family of seven and the extra kids she watched on half of what most people needed. Of course, this meant a lot of bologna sandwiches and Kool-Aid, but it was a feat I still respect today. 

One of her more infamous rules was to never, unless absolutely necessary, use air conditioning. And for my mother, what constituted absolutely necessary was a matter of pure torture to most. This rule felt especially cruel in the middle of Georgia summers, mashed side-by-side with a half dozen other wriggly kids on leather seats, in ninety-plus degree heat, heading to swim team practice. My mother insisted on rolling windows down rather than wasting extra gas by using the air conditioning. We all writhed and whined at every stoplight when the breeze died down, sticky legs and sweaty backs beckoning the wind to blow again. I was always skeptical about how much gas was actually being saved and horrified when we inevitably arrived at our destination with rosy cheeks and wet rear-ends.

It was in that old white station wagon, sardined alongside my sisters, that I first became truly aware of my body. I remember sitting down on those sticky, hot leather seats one day and watching with horror as my thighs spread into what seemed like a never-ending mass of flesh. I vividly recall lifting and lowering my legs over and over, verifying the atrocity of thighs that were so full they now spread

Now, at the time, I was a very lean, active ten-year-old. If you look at pictures of me, you’d see nothing but a slender, sun-kissed, beautiful little girl. I did well in swim team, was admired by the boys and was generally a self-confident child. But becoming aware of my thighs - those sweaty, spreading thighs - would be the first step toward years of a deteriorating body image.

Not too long after the thigh-spread incident, I discovered that my mom had a bottle of pills intended to help you get skinnier. It seemed like a simple, obvious answer to the growing doom I felt about my body, and so I soon started stealing those pills and taking them on a regular basis. They didn’t seem to have any effect on my body, at least nothing that was startlingly obvious. But they had a profound impact on me emotionally. They taught me that it was normal to hate my body, and that there was a whole world out there ready and willing to help me fix all the unpleasant parts of me. 

My addiction to dieting thus began in fifth grade.


There's much more to this story! To finish it, and many others, please checkout my book available on Amazon today! 

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

You Are Love

The other day a friend and I followed our four kiddos on a morning stroll, enjoying the blissful breeze of a fresh Fall day. All the kids had chosen some wheeled-vehicle for our walk: A scooter, a trike, a bike with training wheels and a "big kid" bike. No sooner had each child mounted their toy and exerted one full pedal or push, than did the first complaint of comparison begin. We immediately realized the error of our ways in letting the kids choose such varied vehicles. One toy was too small, another too big; one was too "babyish," another too hard; one was even too blue.

The back and forth bickering over who was riding what, who was riding beside what and what order they were all riding in was incessant. My friend and I did our best to field each complaint with encouragements about staying calm, being grateful, learning to share, and eventually, pleading with each child to just be quiet and keep riding. When, fifteen minutes later, we made it to the park that had been our original destination, we heaved heavy sighs as the kids threw their toys down and ran to various sections of the playground. We were silent - blissfully, beautifully, thankfully silent - watching the kids finally laugh and play together.

After a few moments, my friend said, "And that is why I don't know how anyone can argue with inherent evil!" referring to the kids' recent displays of selfishness and greed. I had to admit, their behavior on our walk had seemed selfish, and certainly short-sited and annoying. It had taken everything in me not to crack and rage against one of them for ruining our peaceful stroll. But a case in defense of inherent evil, I wasn't so sure. 


For as long as I can remember, I was taught the principle of inherent evil. I knew early on that at my core, I was corrupt. Not just that I was capable of making bad decisions, but that I - the essence of me - was naturally, unavoidably, offensively flawed. A "sinful nature" is what we called it, and I grew up knowing that this “sinful nature” was unacceptable to my Creator, embarrassing to my elders and, therefore, utterly exasperating to me. This all came to me as a permanent label, spoken in love by those I loved, a reality of life. 

Perhaps my youthful ears exaggerated the message or perhaps I misunderstood some key caveat to the concept as it was being translated into kid-friendly vernacular. Either way, these are the exact words that my soul chewed up and swallowed, over and over again, throughout my youth: The real you is evil. 

Jonathan Edwards, a popular preacher from the 1700's, is famous for expounding on the doctrine of inherent evil in his most popular sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. In it he said, "The God that holds you over the pit of Hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked; his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes that to bear to have you in his sight…"

A later sermon, directed specifically to the children of his church, took on even more extreme language. In it Edwards said, "God is not only angry enough to correct you, but to cast you into Hell to all eternity. You deserve to burn in Hell forever. Your being children don’t excuse you…Wicked children are in God’s sight like young serpents. We hate young snakes. They are the children of the devil…." While I was never personally lavished with such extreme language or in-your-face accusations of my own corrupt nature, the essence of this message still slithered its way into my heart, over and over again, in the guise of softer, gentler words, in the appeals of Sunday School teachers to "Give my sinful heart to Jesus." 

I am no historian, nor am I attempting to trap Edwards into a corner specifically marked "good" or "bad." But it is unarguable that his words have had great influence in the shaping of the Christianity we know today. And it is unarguable that his belief was deeply, completely rooted in the principle of inherent evil, a principle that continues to shape the way may of us think and talk about ourselves today.

As a child, naturally desiring to please and live up to the expectations of those around me, it was both devastating and toxically motivating to live with the reality that I was inherently evil. I needed to do right in the eyes of leaders, teachers, parents and peers in order to feel at ease in my own skin, corrupt as it may be. My young mind repeated a message to me that sounded something like this, “You may be evil, but look how happy they are when you do XYZ. You'll never be enough just being you, but do XYZ and they’ll notice you and approve.” I quickly internalized the reality that I could not escape my inherited nature, but I sure could work myself to death to prove my worth through academic accomplishments, discipline, beauty and service. This was my truth from a very young age. 

And it was this “truth” that catapulted me into my first spiritual awakening at age twelve. Having experienced a healthy dose of middle school meltdowns, I was desperate for something to “fix my life.” It was in light of this longing for "a fix" that the Christian Gospel first connected with me. As best as I can recall, and with a healthy dose of hindsight, this is the message my soul heard: You are evil, which you clearly know. You are broken and corrupt and hopelessly flawed. It’s not completely your fault, but you are stuck with it nonetheless. You are corrupt and that’s not okay, with anyone. But, there’s good news, too; there’s Someone who can build a bridge between your evil nature and the perfection you need. If you’ll admit how evil you are and how incapable of attaining perfection you are, that Someone will accept your flawed self and give you power to become perfect. Oh, and God loves you.

And so I admitted and accepted…and spent the next 15 years still working myself to death to be perfect. 

Perfection took on new meanings, though, shrouded with Bible verses and missionary service and endless meetings. And, yes, it was a bit messier and more mysterious than that. And yes, it did include true grace and kindness and forgiveness and connection and Love. But it also included an endless sense of guilt, of “not enough-ness,” of trying and proving, of blacks and whites and silenced questions, of empty relationships, of faking it or hoping for it or not following my emotions or thoughts or anything else that could be labeled as "me." After 15 years, I was still inherently evil and perfection still loomed far in the distance.

I knew that I was broken, that I was capable of great evil and tragically prone to sin, but deep down, at the very center of my being, I felt as though I still mattered to God.
Rachel Held EvansFaith Unraveled

I started wandering away from that pursuit, and all those beliefs, a few years ago. The perfect self crumbled so painfully small that I could no longer make out what it was I was aiming for. Somewhere in the mess of my pain and questioning, I connected with flawed humanity and fell in love. Without all the striving, I started to connect with my true self - my longings, my thoughts, my feelings, me - and realized there was much more good there than I’d ever been lead to believe. I started to question that early indoctrination about my inherent nature. I started to ask, Who am I, at my core?

And so when my friend suggested that our kids' selfish, annoying bickering was a good defense for inherent evil, I heard her comment through all those years of carrying a heavy load full of "not enoughs" and "keep tryings." I heard her through years of Sunday School classes that taught me both to believe the truth that God loved me, and to remember my sinful nature and repent of it daily. I heard her through years of hating myself - because myself seemed to be the root of all evil - and all the starving and abusing and repenting and dysfunction that was birthed out of such self-hate. 

Today, when I look at my kids, or when I look at myself, the first thing I see is goodness. I see a piece of the Divine, a sparkle of Love itself, sown into every fiber. I see kindness and selflessness, creativity and beauty. Of course I see the short-tempers and the selfish greed and the myriad other flaws, too. But I see them as a possibility to be chosen, not as the essence of any person's inherent nature. I see what Glennon Doyle-Melton writes to her son in her book, Carry On Warrior, "When you were born, I (God) put a piece of myself in you. Like an indestructible, brilliant diamond, I placed a part of me inside of you. That part of you - the very essence of you, in fact - is me; it is Love, it is perfect, and it is untouchable. No one can take it and you can’t give it away. It is the deepest, truest part of you, that will someday return to me. You are Love."

That's what I see. 

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Friday, September 18, 2015

It Takes a Village

For five of our almost ten years of marriage, Daniel and I have had at least one roommate. During our second year of marriage, we invited my youngest sister into our recently purchased campus house for her first year of college. Soon after, we opened our other spare bedroom to a college friend. When both girls moved out a year later, we had a series of short-term roommates, including a foreign exchange student from Spain and a brother of a close college friend.

We lived in our own home throughout our years in Thailand, although it was not uncommon to share a meal or an entire day with our neighbors. Once we returned to the States, Daniel's parents graciously opened their homes for us during our eight months of transitioning back to life in the U.S. and finding a house of our own. Then shortly after moving into that house, my brother moved into our basement bedroom for his freshman year of college, and just a few months later, my youngest sister moved into our last spare bedroom during a six-month gap between jobs. At the time, our son was just a few months old, and soon I would find out I was expecting his baby sister. 

When the kids were just 1 and 2, we invited Daniel's youngest sister and her husband to live with us. They were both starting new careers, hoping to save for a house of their own - plus our basement bedroom had been vacant for almost a year. They ended up living with us for almost nine months, moving to their country home shortly after the kids turned 2 and 3. They were our last roommates to-date.

I will be the first to admit that every roommate situation had its plusses and minuses, but by far, the good out-weighed the bad. Even when we were wrestling through our first years of marriage, or figuring out how to care for a newborn and a not-yet one-year-old, or grieving over a tragic loss, having roommates was always a positive, deeply rewarding experience. 
Perhaps it is because living life together has always been my heartbeat. 
Perhaps it is because our hearts and minds, even our biology, is hard-wired for regular human contact. 
Perhaps it is because the moment-to-moment sharing of life helps us savor each second that much more.  
Perhaps it is because we are better together, because it takes a village

I recently stumbled across an article called, I Miss the Village, and for the first time realized that I was not alone in my longing for community living. That for all the years of crazy stares when I have told people about our many roommates, THIS. For all the years of extending yet another spare bedroom, rearranging our own living arrangements to accommodate more guests, THIS. For all the years of bemoaning garage door openers, and planned dinner dates once a month and so much time and distance between interactions, THIS. For all the years of sitting across from a friend or acquaintance, trying to articulate what community means to me, trying to put into words the life I have always longed for, THIS.

Because what would happen if, instead of carrying the burdensome weight of large mortgages and two car payments and tons of cleaning, we divided that weight up a bit? What would happen if, instead of trying to be chef and chauffeur, tutor and therapist, mama and money-maker, we admitted our limitations and leaned on the strengths of others? What would happen if, instead of flicking a tiny gray rectangle giving us quick and private access in and out of our own lives, we - with wisdom and discernment - opened our doors, and our hearts?
Perhaps we would find our village. 
We would find each other. 
We would find the joy of life, together

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Monday, September 14, 2015

And, Because Life Doesn't Fit Into "Either"

Every Monday for the next several weeks, I'll be featuring selections from my new book, One Slender Thread. If you're interested in reading more, you can purchase the book on Amazon today! Today's selection is from one of my favorite chapters on parenting, And.

"Maybe you love your kids a little too much!” she said over her shoulder as she left our house that day. She waved a sweet goodbye, this dear friend who had no kids of her own and, so, I concluded, had no idea what she was talking about. She spoke in jest, as comments like these often are, just sort of throwing her two cents out into the wind. But no sooner had her casual comment found its way into the air, then did it find its way right into the back of my head, crashing, bruising, leaving me dizzy. 

The target was my affection and perceived over-protection of my little ones - in other words, my heart. I was able to shake the accusation off in the moment, but soon learned that her words had stuck, had lodged into my parenting file and kept pricking at my conscience. 

If you’re a parent and have ever had a non-parent comment on how well you are doing, you know it can be crazy-making. It doesn't seem to matter the context or the tone, if the speaker was compassionate or on crack. It's about your parenting, how well you are caring for your most prized possessions, so it keeps on pricking and poking and annoying you until you find a way to lay it to rest. Or am I the only crazy one?

Driving to the grocery store later that same day, I was somewhat successfully listening to a radio show on NPR. Of all things, the guest speaker, Jennifer Senior, was a researcher and author of the book, All Joy, No Fun. The book focuses on the effects that children have on their parents.

I tuned in just as Senior started describing shifts in parenting behaviors and styles over the past few decades and how dramatically we have switched to a very child-focused orientation. She referenced protestors in the 1920’s and 30’s fighting to end child labor in America and how their battle cry was, effectively, “Children are delicate, precious; they’re our most prized possessions.” This was in stark contrast to previous worldviews, which often saw children only as assets insofar as they could contribute economically to the household. Children were once considered personal property, not prized possessions. But this all changed early last century.  

There were all sorts of studies being referenced and historical facts being cited as to how this switch has not been all positive. Research about parenting becoming a world that revolves around children, children being overindulged and under-prepared for real world problems, and so on. It was hard to piece all the comments together between the constant, “Hey, Mama’s,” coming from my backseat passengers and the fact that I was driving on half-plowed snowy roads. I heard just enough, though, for my parenting red flag to shoot up in alarm. 

The pricking and the poking of that earlier, "Maybe you love them too much" comment now increased with a fury. I thought, "Oh no! She is talking to me. This is about as close as it comes to God parting the clouds and speaking these days. Maybe it’s true; maybe I'm ruining them. Maybe I do love them too much!” 

With a little less toddler taunting being thrown at me from behind and a couple hours to sit with my thoughts, I came back with a much more balanced revelation: I was only sort of screwing my kids up. I saw myself rallying to be their biggest fan and best friend, raising Happiness as the highest goal. I saw my dreams of self-confident, self-aware kids being built on more quality time with me. I saw all the "mama dates" and cuddles and kisses and endless playtime, and wondered if it was a bit misdirected.


For the rest of this story, and more more, purchase One Slender Thread today!

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Little Mouths & Large Mysteries

“Mama, how can God hear us if he is all the way up in the sky?”

My three-year-old, Havyn, dressed in a purple tutu, a bright pink shirt and sparkly Tinker Bell shoes she’s still squeezing into from last Halloween, speaks this question during an afternoon walk. The sun is hot - far too hot for a September afternoon - and we are all rushing toward the next patch of shade. I hear her question from behind, just as we find the next welcomed relief of cool.

“Well, sweetie, I don’t think God only lives in the sky. He is all around us.”

“Really? I heard he lives in the sky?”

I nod and smile. “Yeah, I think people talk about God living in the sky because he is so big and powerful and mysterious and endless – like the sky. But really, there’s a little piece of God in everything. He is everywhere – in you and in me, and in the clouds and in the tree. God shows a bit of himself through everything, and we can see Him all around if we pay attention.”

“Mama, doesn’t Jesus get all bloody and gross inside us?”

Now it is my four-year-old, Kyler, dressed in his favorite bright orange Under Armor shirt, soccer shorts and dirty feet from a day of barefoot play, pondering life’s mysteries on the back porch as he pauses from an intense round of chase. I rub his buzzed, sweaty head and admire his rosy cheeks. We kick our legs off the edge of the porch, rubbing our feet in the cool grass and watching the bright white clouds floating overhead.

“Gosh, buddy, I never thought about that. Are you confused because you’ve heard people talk about Jesus living in their hearts?”

“Yeah, and if he lives inside us, wouldn’t he be like, ‘Ew! There’s so much blood everywhere! Get it off me!!’?”

I giggle and pause for a moment. “Well, sweetie, I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I think when people talk about Jesus living in their hearts, they don’t really mean that his body is inside their body. They mean that the part of Jesus that never died – his spirit – lives inside the part of you that will never die – your spirit. When we talk about a spirit, we aren’t talking about something we can touch, like this grass or this porch. It’s more like the air around us: we know it is there, even though we cannot see it.”

“Mama, how did God make everything?”

It’s the three-year-old again, noticing a huge oak tree at one of our local parks. She stares up the wide trunk, a million times her height, and then looks down at her hands. I imagine she is inspecting them for signs of their Maker.

“That’s a great question, sis. What do you think?”

Shrugging and laughing at herself, Havyn answers, “I don’t know. I guess he just makes us all at his big factory!”

My heart warms at her creativity. “Well, maybe! Although I haven’t ever heard of a God Factory before. As far as I know, when we say that God made everything, we mean that he made a way for all things to exist. For example, he didn’t actually build that tree over there with his own hands, but he put the potential for that tree inside a seed, and he put the Earth in just the right spot to get enough sunlight and enough rain for that seed to grow, and he made the Earth with just the right mix of nutrients and gases so that the seedling could thrive, and then eventually this tree grew.”

All three of these conversations happened this week, amidst fevers and fatigue and our furnace giving out. You would think our children were in Sunday School every week or attended a religious preschool. You would think we have family devotionals or read them Bible stories before bed. You would think, at the least, that we are actively raising them in the church or constantly engaging them in spiritual conversations.

But the reality is, none of that is really true. Because for better or worse, I have purposefully kept our kids from many of those experiences, cautiously trying to avoid some of the religious fundamentalism and spiritual confusion that I myself have had to work through as an adult. I have hesitated to surround them with a world of answers, when so much of life is mystery. I have hesitated to wrap their questions up too neatly, and I have been open about my own journey of searching and learning and growing.

And so as the kids brought each mystery before me, in many ways I was totally surprised by their thoughts. At some point, through culture or family or friends, they absorbed these ideas - but never in my presence, and never directly from me. And although at first, each time, I was taken aback and had to rally for context and understanding, I just as quickly found a smile filling my entire face. I found myself welcoming their quandaries and adoring their “Why’s.”

But I will not always know how to answer them. I will do my best, stumble over my words, laugh at myself and delight in their child-like faith. I will try to honor their humanity, and the humanity of every person on earth. I will search, keep searching; learn, keep learning. I will say, “I’m not sure.” and “I don’t know.” more times than I’d like, but I will do it with a commitment to walk alongside them through every step of their searching journeys.

And I will ask for help. I will search for stories. I will ask you, How do you speak to your children about the Divine? What quandaries have your children brought to you, and how did you respond? How do you balance uncertainty and security in answering your children’s questions?

Tell us your stories, friend. Let’s do this crazy thing called parenting together.

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

To Lecture or To Love

Did you know...
There was a time when popular Christian voices in our country used the Bible to justify and defend the practice of slavery?  

There was a time when many Bible-believing people used piles of Scripture verses to teach the "Biblical principle" of a woman being her husband's property - to defend a man's right to rule, to rape, to retain total control over every aspect of his wife's life? 

There was a time, not so long ago, when Christians declared God was on their side in their fight to retain racial segregation in our country? 

That still, today, Christians invoke the name of God in defense of silencing women from taking on leadership roles, in support of one political candidate over another, in wars and in prayers to find a good parking spot at the mall. 
I didn't know. Not really. 

In my own journey of finding a place to breathe and belong within Christianity - very much an ongoing process - this news is both a welcomed relief and a terrible source of grief. On the one hand, it would be comforting to find that these voices were not the majority, or that we could somehow explain away these beliefs and actions with labels like "nominal" or "fanatical." It would be comforting to tell ourselves that these were not real Christians, not people with vibrant, personal relationships with Jesus, not people that attended church regularly or read their Bible daily - not, in other words, the type of Christians many of us presume to be. It would ease some of the grief and discomfort from reading these facts, but it would not be the truth.

The truth is, these were "real" Christians, regular church attenders, the preachers and teachers and leaders of their days. These were people that took their Bibles very seriously, that devoted their lives to teaching others what they understood its message to be. These were believers so convinced of their right-ness, so full of certainty in their truth, that they stood firmly in their message despite opposition. These were the ones many of us would call "sold out" or "on fire" today.
And this is a relief. It's a welcomed relief, in fact, because it reminds me that no one human, no one group, no one church movement has ever had the market on Truth. It reminds me that the Divine has always been a little too confined by strict dogmas and a little too misunderstood by well-meaning people with all the right answers. It reminds me that God is always at work and always doing a new thing, despite our best intentions to keep him locked in a box, acting just the way our doctrinal statements tell him to.

Maybe your own heart is mingled with relief and grief when you read these things. Maybe you, too, have needed something firm to plant your disappointment with today's church in. Maybe you've needed the reminder that God has always been at work, but not always where we expected to find it. Maybe you needed a little nudge to look up from all the answers, and see something Bigger at hand. 

Here's how I see it: If we allow our hearts enough space to look honestly into our history, it is hard not to sit down with a great sigh of humility. It is hard not to look at these brothers and sisters from centuries past with a sense of bewilderment, even a sense of shame. And it is hard, in light of all this, not to take a humble step back and reevaluate our own moral certainties. To at least give ourselves enough space to say: There could be more than what I now see or know. To allow ourselves the freedom to let go of our reigns of certainty and control, and to see with humility the evolution of human consciousness that continues to alter what we label as "right" or "wrong." 
Because the truth is, what was once so obviously right to many Christians just decades ago, can today be seen as clear moral wrongs. This is not relativism, it is not an "anything goes" license - this is human growth. This is the reality of the learning curve we are all on, and we would do well to humbly admit our place on it.  

Today, who in the church would argue that slavery should still be around? Who would listen to a Christian rattling on about the inferiority of one race over another, and not find themselves ill in disbelief? How many of us could sit under a pulpit that teaches women are the property of their men, that they should not be allowed medical treatment without the approval of their man, that they should not be given a voice in society, not even the right to vote? And yet for so long, all these things were firmly rooted under the "right" category for many devout, Bible-believing people. Many regular church attenders heard weekly sermons praising all these actions as pleasing to God.

Author Matthew Paul Turner puts it this way, "And while a Bible-sized God is easy to fit inside purses or tuck beneath armpits, it can also make human relationships with others more difficult, turn regular Joes into pontificating biblical elitists, and make everyday normal molehills into mountains of biblical proportions. Bible-sized God offers people “holy” excuses to rage against other groups. Throughout our Christianish history, Americans have used scripture to marginalize, manipulate, violate, excuse, and disregard other people."

So what do we do with this? Here is what this history means to me: That it's time we look up and see that there is a bigger picture constantly unfolding before us. That we recognize that there came a point when someone laid down their reigns of certainty and control, and looked beyond the assumed beliefs of their day. That there came a point when brave dissenters caught sight of a whole new beautiful, broken world and fought - often with their very lives - to bring that new world into existence, a world we greatly benefit from today. That there came a point when devout believers realized that God was not just alive in an ancient text re-interpreted for them dozens of times over, but that He was alive and act in their very beings, right here, right now

When I read this history, I have to ask: Could it be that in five years or fifty, we will look at our own lists of "right" and "wrong" and realize we had a few things mislabeled? Could it be that we will see the church's treatment of gays and lesbians with the same sense of bewilderment and grief that today we see racial segregation? 
Or could it be that, in our own lives, we will look back and realize that we have cherry-picked verses and overlooked historical context, using Scripture to label and to lecture, rather than to loveCould it be that many of us are in great need of laying down our hefty handfuls of "right" and "wrong," and instead, reaching out a hand and asking our neighbors, "Will you tell me your story?"

Historical background and inspiration for this piece came from Matthew Paul Turner's book, Our Great Big American God

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