Thursday, March 27, 2014

Welcome from Venn Magazine!  You may be interested in why I gave up on God's will, and how my faith grew stronger as a result.  You may also relate to what Legos taught me about Lent.  We're so glad you stopped by!

Today is another installment of our series "Give Peace a Chance." We are asking how we can be peacemakers within the church.  In light of the recent World Vision controversy, never has there been a more important time to consider how we make peace with one another, and work together on the things that most touched the heart of Christ. Scroll down to read today's installment, written by guest blogger Mikkee Hall.  "I sat there in judgment, and I recognized in myself a source of the lack of peace in the church. I was doing what is most damaging ..." Read the rest below.

Give Peace a Chance: Division and Peace both begin with me.

Creative Commons - by Photo Everywhere
This is our third installment of the series, Give Peace a Chance. We're asking, how can we be peacemakers in a noisy, sometimes chaotic room. The World Vision controversy weighs heavy on me today. Never has there been a more important time to ask how we can be instruments of peace within the modern church.

Today's post is by Mikkee Hall. Mikkee is my best friend, and I refer to her here often, though I never use anyone's names. I asked her to share her thoughts because Mikkee is the most peace-loving person I have ever met. Yet below she shares how she finds in herself both a source of division, and a source of peace. As I read her words, over and over I thought - me too. I can't wait to hear your thoughts as well.  
I grew up in a fundamentalist church. As a child, I found church to be a place of internal division – one very fundamental denomination pitted against all the rest – and my church was convinced we were “the only ones who had it right.” Though I have long abandoned my fundamentalist roots, as an adult I continue to experience this feeling of one denomination being pitted against another. I find myself yearning for a place of peace and grace, even when I disagree.

when you're burned out (and lists just don't help)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Burnout.  I have it.

I'm tired of standing in front of my pantry every afternoon, staring down the work of cooking, serving, and cleaning up another meal for six people that most of them aren't going to eat .  School has slowed to a contrived trickle, and my patience for chasing toddlers out of toilets is thin.  I am uninspired and disengaged.  I sleep through my writing time, then write during time dedicated to my kids, while they squabble and destroy the room around me.  I daydream of beaches and room service, leisurely mornings and quiet meals.  I want a vacation from my life.

But that isn't my reality.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Welcome from Mamapedia and MOPS!  You may be interested in thoughts about getting out of the race with other moms, how I handle the days when I'd rather hide back stage, why I let my children out of my sight, or what kids really need.  Don't forget to join us on Facebook or Twitter to get regular updates on new posts as well as inspiring links and quotes from other blogs.  So glad you're here!

the cost of peace: a guest post by Fr. Chris Bollegar

Creative Commons - photo by suvodeb
This is the second installment of our series Give Peace a Chance, which asks the question:  In the modern church, what does peace look like?  Does it equate to silence, or is it something more vocal, more active, more intentional? How do we make peace with one another in the middle of our debates and controversies?  You can read the first installment here, and you can find my thoughts here.  

The best part about hosting a series is I get to introduce you to some of the people I admire most.  Today's guest post is written by Father Chris Bollegar, who is an Anglican priest.  Fr. Chris is the most humble leader I have ever known.  He was the first spiritual leader I've ever met who is comfortable saying from the pulpit, "I don't know."  I thank God for his influence in my life.  

If you would like to hear more of Chris' thoughts, you can find his sermons here.  I would highly recommend checking out Jan 26 and March 9 first.

Peace.  When we talk about peace, what is it we are talking about?

Is it co-existence without coercive violence?  Is it that we simply agree to disagree, and live and let live?  Is it setting aside the law of non-contradiction with its clear binaries?  Is it learning to just "love one another" (a phrase so many zealous apologists from either side of our public debates mock and despise)?

There is validity to defining peace as the absence of something we deem destructive to human flourishing - the absence of violence, for example, or coercion, oppression, or bigotry binary logic.  But if we leave it there, we fall far short of the kind of peace that Jesus spoke of and the Christian tradition, in its best moments, has hoped for.

But the challenge in defining peace is similar to the challenge in defining love.  Once we 

failing up

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lately, every time I sit down to write, I stare at a silent screen.
Vulnerability is the birth place of creativity, Brene Brown says, but lately I don’t feel like being vulnerable.
Not here, not online.  Because recently a friend died unexpectedly, and because my kids are communicating a need in their behavior I don’t know how to address, and because I am working hard to talk about more with my husband than grocery lists and how much we have in the account.
I’m vulnerable in a half dozen places right now, and I don’t want to talk about any of them.  So I stare at a silent screen.
I resist because I don’t want to be seen as uncertain.  I can talk about past issues all day long.  New to motherhood?  I’m your woman.  Leaving destructive theology?  Moving across the country?  Pull up a chair.
But reconnecting to your spouse after a difficult season?  Moving out of crisis mode, and accepting the new as normal?  Please don’t bring it up.  How to really hear and respond to what your kids are communicating, and not just react to the slammed door, the relentless whining?  Let’s talk about something else.
I can talk about old issues with you all day long.  Current ones, though, I like to avoid.  Because I want to be the wise one.  The gracious one, the one who has struggled and found her way.  Not the one who still has a long way to go ... 
And don't forget to check back tomorrow for our next installment of Give Peace A Chance, as one of the people I most respect looks at the question, "How can we be peacemakers within the church?"

how to win the battle of wills

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

photo by Lars Plougmann - Creative Commons
Today I am sharing a story from last summer on MOPS' newsletter, The Fridge Door.  Typically I don't share those articles here, but despite the different style, I thought this one may interest you.  When we battle our children, we all lose.  

If you're here from MOPS, welcome!  You may be interested in the most important thing you can say to a mom, how a book on natural changed my life, or how I handle the days when I'd rather hide backstage.  You can also join us on Facebook or Twitter to see new posts, keep up with great links to other blogs, and hear the occasional funny story from my daily life.  So glad you're here!

"No!  You don't find me!!"  It's nap time, and she is out of her room.  Again.

I pick up my daughter and carry her back to bed.  As I walk down the hall she screeches, "Don't tuck me in!"

on peace makers in a noisy room

Thursday, March 13, 2014

photo by Daniel Tellman - Creative Commons
In my life, peace began with a dream - a literal dream about kissing strangers, passing the peace of Christ to rude men.  You can read the story here.

As I have put my experience of making peace into words, I had a decision to make.
Our modern spiritual climate is marked by disunity.  Elizabeth Esther said it best: our Protestant heritage is to protest - to question, to argue, to debate.  You don't need examples of what I mean; I am sure they are as prevalent on your computer screen as they are on mine.  

As I have shared more details about leaving a destructive theology, and finding peace in the liturgy, I had to make a decision:  Would I join the protest?  Would I be another loud voice in an already noisy room, using  my experience to highlight faults and encourage anger and disappointment with church?  Or would I use my experience to build bridges, and make peace instead?

This is my big thing.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

"I used to dream of doing big things for God.
For years it was just the two of us, my husband and me, following his guitar and my passions.  We moved often, always pursuing the next ministry opportunity, the next gig.  We were proud of the fact that our life did not look like our friends’ back home.  We wanted more.  We dreamed of a big faith, a life full of great stories.  We dreamed of doing important work for God.
Then I lost a baby, and my dreams became achingly ordinary."
Today I am over at Middle Places.  You can read the rest here.

what legos taught me about Lent

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I am sharing today about the benefits of observing Lent over at Converge Magazine.  Which is ironic, because I have struggled with Lent this year.

I love liturgy.  I love reliving the great drama of the Christian faith each week alongside my neighbors, and I am convinced in the power of experience over study.  But this particular practice stumped me.  Fasting and repentance are throughout Scripture, but I left a theology that insisted even when we were repenting, we were still sinning.  I am convinced the liturgical seasons draw us closer to God,  but I couldn't warm up to the idea of focusing on my sin for the next forty days.  I'd given enough years of my life to that endeavor.  I didn't want to pick it up again.

Until I dealt with my son's Lego problem.

three things i learned from the dumbest and best decision I ever made

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A year ago at this moment, my husband was driving a moving van up I-65 toward Nashville,  an elderly golden retriever curled asleep beside him.  I was about an hour behind, in a minivan packed beyond reason with children, ipads, Dora stickers, snacks, diapers, pack-n-plays, and lovey blankets.  

A year ago today, we left our hometown for the last time.  We were driving home.

On paper our decision looked foolish.  We cashed our retirement fund to move, rented out our house that never would sell, left both of our extended families and almost all of our friends (except my best friend, who took the same risk by moving across the country with us), and moved our large, young family across the country without any prospects of employment.  We originally planned to join a specific ministry, but even before we left the South, our hearts were moving away from that faith tradition.  On top of all that, I'd only been to Colorado twice in my life.  My husband had me beat; he'd visited the area five times.  Neither of us was exactly familiar with the climate or culture of Denver.

Yet it was the best decision we've ever made.  A year later, my only regret is we didn't move sooner.

In honor of my family's Colorado birthday, here are three things I learned from the dumbest and best decision I've ever made.

it's okay to let your kids struggle (and why i'm so terrible at it)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

It's Saturday, and in my house Saturdays are for Costco and naps and movies (when it's snowing) and bike rides (when it's not) and great barbeque for dinner.  To honor my commitment, and because several of you were not here last August, I thought I would share one of my favorite posts from the early days of A Wide Mercy.

photo by my very talented friend Jesse

Lunch time, and we are in the park.  Rather, I am attempting to leave the park, and it's not going very well.  Three mobile children, two bikes, one stroller, and one dog are all in my possession, and each has a different agenda.  The dog wants to mark every fixture, the boys are riding in two separate directions (neither of which lead back to the car), and the two-year-old, who has ventured out of the house for the first time without a diaper, refuses to walk in her soiled pants.  The parking lot seems to be stretching away from us.  It's excruciatingly slow, but we plod along.  

Then, I hear a cry behind me.  "My bike's broken!  I can't ride it!  I need help!!" 


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