It has been over a month since we've chatted, so I hope you're ready for this! Here's what's going on in today's email, in order (so scroll to what you like!):
New essay (just for email subscribers!)
Book review of the month
Links + interesting articles
New podcast episodes (these are both SO good!)
Books, shows & podcasts I've been loving
Growing Pains & Mythical Greatness
Have you felt uncomfortable lately? Stripped of our routine, compelled to confront tough issues like racism, left to ponder the uncertainty for your kids' education in the fall -- you never feel more inclined to to turn to God than when things are literally out of your control.
You realize you really aren't good for much in these situations, yet you are entrenched in them, so a deeper faith necessarily grows. It never feels great at the time; think about babies getting new teeth and "growing pains" in young children. This always-relevant quote from Christine Caine is applicable:
"Sometimes when you're in a dark place you think you've been buried, but you've actually been planted.”
What are you growing right now?
You've been told what to do, a lot. By the government, by activists, by society. And you're seemingly "judged" if you aren't doing it right -- taking your toddler to Target when he won't wear a mask, not posting enough on social media about anti-racism, not supporting the "right" political candidates or policies. Never mind cancelling other people, it's overwhelming enough to want to cancel yourself!
Moving Towards the Light
But God is always working in the dark places, molding our spirits and inching the goodness beneath the surface towards the light. And powerful things occur spiritually when the world is upended, when pandemics contaminate and systems shift and people rise. It's messy, but God's in there. Revolution can be forced by the natural world or driven by the human one, but we're never going backwards, or forcing an idealistic past back into present.
I sort understand what President Trump means when he says "make America great again," but the only time the world was "great" was Eden. Since then, we've been moving, changing, sinning, repenting, striving, failing and enduring this short life, banking on the fact that there's got to be more than this. It's too tragic and too unfair, with it's baby deaths and Holocausts and hardships, to be the sum total of existence.
And yet, we still must respect and prune this one, earthly life -- to treat others as sacred creations of God -- no matter their age, ability, physical appearance, sexual preference, religious choice, political leanings. No matter how wrong, or annoying or intolerable, we think they are. And we must accept we'll do it wrong sometimes, or other people will think we're doing it wrong, but our responsibility is to consult God and scripture and follow where He leads.
"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." -- Isaiah 30:21
Bits That Are Worth Your Time
What one of the founders of evangelicalism can teach us about racism. This one's important and ever-so good!
Racist police violence reconsidered. I'm IN with racial justice and listening. I'm also intent on weighting my thoughts with a multitude of voices and facts. John McWhorter is an important voice on racial issues and this piece is enlightening.
Trump never knew how to protect social conservatives. Written by my friend, Michael Wear, of the And Campaign with some great points about voting based exclusively on SCOTUS.
Just how secular should America be? On the SCOTUS case regarding sex discrimination and religious freedom.
Andrew Sullivan: Is there still room for debate? I believe there SHOULD be!
Reading: "The Great Emergence" by Phyllis Tickle (THIS IS DEEP STUFF)
"Becoming" by Michelle Obama
Watching: Unorthodox on Netflix (very good!)
Listening: Church Pulse Weekly podcast by Barna
The Moon is Round by Molly Huffman
Six years ago, I stumbled upon the blog of a woman experiencing one of the worst things I could imagine: her baby had passed away from a rare, genetic illness. I wasn’t yet a parent, but still gutted. I later saw she had gotten divorced and my heart broke for her again.
Time passed by and I lost track of the writer with the hard story. Fast forward to 2019. I came across Molly Huffman's name on social media again and realized she was actually from my town — and we had multiple friends in common. I began following her again and was joyful to see she had remarried and now had a beautiful, healthy baby boy.
When I sat down to read Molly's new book, "The Moon is Round" (which took all of 48 hours), I knew in an instant that God was calling me to be a messenger for this book. I felt the power of Molly’s words seeping into my heart and more importantly, I saw offering having exponential comfort and wisdom for the many readers to come.
I heard God telling me to be an advocate for this book. If you ever wonder -- how do you hear God? This was a VERY CLEAR message I can't really explain! I’m no expert but I’ve done the book thing before and wanted to help. Molly self-published, though I think any publishing company would be a fool to pass this book up. Unfortunately, having a major “platform” and oodles of followers matters in the industry. But God is far more powerful that a large following on social media!
I have been and will be doing everything I can to tell the world: READ THIS BOOK! Want to know of God's faithfulness? Read it. Want to see Him work in supernatural ways? Read it. Want to believe you can get through the very worst thing possible & still love and thrive and believe in God's goodness? Read it.
"Worth Your Time" Podcast Episodes to Catch Up On
1. Sharon Hodde Miller: God Calls Us to Use Our Voice
This episode was recorded just before COVID and definitely before the recent racial justice protests in our country, but I found so much of it extremely relevant to the current conversation. We have a responsibility as Christians to speak out for justice. We discuss how Jesus approach situations like the ones we are seeing today. It always helps to consider the age old question: What would Jesus do? Sharon is a pastor, author, mom of three -- she's got some wisdom you need to hear!
2. Mary DeMuth: Sexual Abuse & the Church
There's a lot going on in the world but sexual assault and abuse is rampant and the time is always right for conversation. Mary's personal story is heartbreaking, but her personal redemption and heart for other victims is empowering. This work matters and I was privileged to have the opportunity to speak with her.
Verse of the Day:
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
Psalm 46: 1-3
Is there anything you'd like me to comment or include more about in my emails? Let me know! Blessings :)