youth

When and How to Have Tough Conversations with Your Kids

 
 
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I had a proud mama moment this week. My youngest, a budding activist who happens to be a 5th grader, declared she was one of a few kids who raised their hands when the teacher asked who knew of Malala. She then apparently took over the discussion about girls’ education and Malala’s efforts, having not only read the book, but watched the documentary, He Named Me Malala.

Malala is her hero.

She knows about the youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient because I bought her the Junior edition in 3rd grade. In 4th grade, I pulled her out of school when limited viewing of the film came to town. And, we’ve continued to discuss global inequity, girls there vs. here, how education decreases terrorism, and the overall privilege she enjoys. She stayed up late the night CNN aired Michelle Obama’s We Will Rise, celebrated Advent with the family at the After Spring Syrian Refugee documentary, and cried with me over Hidden Figures last week.

She’s an activist because of me. She’s a little women’s rights campaigner because of me.

And I’m proud.

A friend asked how to have tough conversations with kids and I knew, he was referencing porn, sex and sexuality, online safety, suicide… all the things we parents muster up the courage to address. We look for books and ask our elders, hoping for an easy, miraculously “safe” way to handle these sensitive topics. And then, if we’re intentional, we schedule a night, a breakfast, a weekend to convey the information, breathing a sigh of relief. We expect behavioral adaptations will follow.

What if they don’t?

Are my kids the only ones who have a short attention span? Is my son the only teen who says “got it” ten billion times a week as the most obvious attempt at covering up a blow off? Surely, I’m not the only parent who repeats herself.

I think osmosis is more effective than a fire hose. Hanging truth upon experience is what makes meaning. Slow parenting looks like repetition over time plus example. And this? This is not accomplished in a singular event.

We cannot teach our kids media literacy over dinner. We won’t raise sexually pure kids as a result of one special weekend. We will not inoculate them from peer pressure after one bullying presentation.

How do parents have tough conversations with their kids? Start young. Don’t stop.

My 10-year old can handle watching a film about Syrian refugees because we’ve talked extensively about global issues. She could read about Malala’s volatile and dangerous life at age 8 because I didn’t shield her from the world’s pain. She wears a “People Don’t Buy People” sweatshirt to school because she gets modern day slavery. Even if she doesn’t fully understand it or picture what it entails, she gets people being forced to do something they never wanted to do.

Raising children to engage the brokenness and darkness and glories of the world as adults requires exposing them to the brokenness and darkness and glories of the world as kids (in age appropriate chunks). As Kate Conner, author of Enough, writes, “Crack the door and let all of the broken, beautiful humanity flood in like a sunbeam. Let it in; let it move her. Let it inspire her, wreck her, challenge her. Let it change her. If you want her to catch the fire, you’re going to have to put her near a flame.”

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If you want to have tough conversations with your kids, you’re going to have to get them near the flame. And of course, you’re going to have get near the flame too.

 

She started selling herself at 14, but her journey is amazing

I'm pleased to have Sheli Massie guest post today. Her transparent and raw story informs so much of what I see in the youth for whom I give sex trafficking prevention trainings. Having a hopeful journey as an example is invaluable. Thanks Sheli for sharing! ***********************************************************

SHE SOLD

I started selling myself when I was 14. Not the on the corner selling. Not online selling. But the please pay attention to me and love me kind of selling. Please tell me I am enough selling. My mother did not drop me at a brothel in order for my siblings to survive. I did it to myself. Some choices I made. Some were made for me.

Me in my skin-tight jeans. Me in my overalls. Me in my long skirts. Me in my short skirts. It had nothing to do with what I was wearing or who I was. It had to do with who I wasn’t. I don’t ever dare compare myself to the millions of children each year that are forced into sex work. Or the girls who are walking the red light districts in their villages to survive. Never. I would never even think that the horror that they experience every day is in any way comparable to my mid-western western choices. But one thing I thing I can relate to is the shell of the person that I became. When you give yourself away and are left with just a shell of disconnect.

I turn forty next month. If I think about it long enough I can get anxious and start thinking of all of the things I have yet to accomplish and the things I never became or missed. Having lived forty years I have to say that the last five have been the hardest and yet produced most growth. Through being stuck in Uganda and not knowing when I would see my whole family again. To suffering from PTSD, depression, anxiety, and attachment issues when I returned. And then to be hit with more news of another child who had been suffering all along. And to watch as she went through years of testing and evaluation in order to receive a diagnosis that is lifelong. I have walked through grief and relief all on the same breath.

But nothing can compare to knowing that I more fully myself than I have ever been. I am confident that I am stronger and braver than I ever thought I could be. I am more confident that my experiences in the past are ONLY used for good. And thank you Jesus that he is letting me see the fruit of that pain today.

But me taking off my clothes for years did more damage than anyone could see. It left me lonely for the next 25. I know that others argue when you give yourself away it won’t affect you. God forgives you and you are fully redeemed. Yes. Yes to all of that. But it does not take away the reality that you are not all of who you were supposed to be. There was so much of me missing. So many parts of me still lay in back seats, parks, beaches, hotels, and beds. So much of me lingered there for years waiting for my soul to collect me. Waiting for me to forgive.

And I think all the time of the sweet angels all over the world tonight that are asking others to love them. To buy them. To sell them. I want to scream and plead. I want to hold them and love them and tell them “you are already enough."

I want to tell them it will take years for the pieces of you to fully return to a new healed soul. But this is not my job. My job is to be their voice. I can. You can. I now work for an organization called Trades of Hope. We partner with marginalized women all over the world. We sell jewelry that is ethically produced by using Fair Trade principle. By marketing their creations we offer artisans a way to provide for their families without entering into slavery, a way to keep their children rather than giving them to orphanages or to the sex trade. I love everything about this company. But the thing I love the most is that 25 years ago God saw the mess that I was making of my life and continued to make for years and whispered gently “I will make all things new.”

Yet it wasn’t until now I that I hear Him.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

************************************************************ Sheli MassieSheli is a writer on good days when a child isn’t puking or screaming or the dog hasn’t run away for the zillionth time or when the house doesn’t look like a Hoarders episode or she didn’t forget to pick up one of the five children from school. She lives in the western suburbs of Chicago with her husband who has pushed her to be a better version of herself for sixteen years. She adore my best friends and she gets anxiety attacks around anyone pretty or skinny, so she stays in her yoga pants and writes about her redemptive story as a proud member of Redbud Writers Guild. You can find Sheli at http://shelimassie.com/

The One Book to Read to Learn More about Child Sex Trafficking

Having bombarded you this month with various posts regarding human trafficking awareness, I want to close out January's National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month with a book recommendation for you to read and learn more. Of the many excellent primers and memoirs out there, my most recent favorite is a combination of the two. Walking-Prey-Cover2

Survivor and activist, Smith weaves her personal story into an analysis of the cultural constructs that form the backdrop and path to trafficking. Unlike most books on this subject, Walking Prey thoroughly addresses the negative influence of media including the early consumerism of children, sexually explicit music lyrics and videos and television and movie industries.

The sexualization of idols in teen-driven media adds to a teen's self-objectification and self-sexualization.

Smith describes in vivid detail (readers beware) the compounding vulnerabilities she experienced before the age of 14. Media is merely one, but it fed into her low self-esteem brought on by substance abuse in the home, childhood sexual abuse, parental denial of abuse, and lack of mental health interventions. For various reasons, by the time she was trafficked, prostitution didn't seem so preposterous. "I already saw my body as a form of currency even before I arrived at that motel room."

I cringe when people refer to me as a former sex slave because if I was a sex slave to anyone, it was to popular culture. Advertisers, entertainment producers, and other moguls of the media were the ones who seasoned me to accept sexual exploitation and prostitution. My body was an object: its sole purpose, I believed by that point, was for sex.

For all the research I do and conferences and trainings I attend on this subject, Walking Prey is the first book that has really challenged me as a mother and trainer of youth. I thought I had crafted an awesome hour-long presentation to high school students. I thought I had all the right components in the arts prevention curriculum I wrote last year. Now I am seriously considering how to add media literacy to my training.

And then there's my home... The Disney Channel regularly promotes "dating" among younger and younger kids and yet before we got rid of cable, was often on in our living room. What is the message that our adolescents are receiving about needing to have a boyfriend/ girlfriend? What about the lyrics to the songs they listen to? One Direction has many catchy songs, but it took us really listening to realize almost every one was about relationships and sex... and our 7-year-old was memorizing them. These popular cultural messages which slip into our kids souls through Disney (at first) feed into an over-sexualized culture which lays the groundwork for exploitation.

Smith lists some interesting documentaries to watch and learn more. Some of the trailers can be viewed for free:

1. Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood

2. Dreamworlds 3: Desire, Sex, and Power in Music Videos

3. Killing Us Softly 4: Advertising's Image of Women

I appreciate Holly Smith sharing her story and offering the anti-trafficking movement such a thorough resource. Right now, if you are a parent, I want to encourage you to take whatever seeds of guilt or condemnation you might be feeling (I don't intend that!) and turn it into prevention education. Would you at least consider the role of media and the over-sexualization of our kids... your kids... And consider the role it plays in allowing sex trafficking to prosper in our society.

My Favorite Training Trafficking Tool in 10 minutes

In 2003, to combat domestic sex trafficking, the FBI, Department of Justice Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, formed the Innocence Lost National Initiative. To date, more than 69 collaborative task forces have been formed around the country and helped recover over 3400 children. Rocky Mountain Innocence Lost Task Force (RMILTF) is one of them. In this 10 minute video produced by iEmpathize, Sergeant Dan Steele of the Denver Police Department and RMILTF describes the nature of a trafficker. It has become one of my go to training tools to educate audiences on the strategy of a pimp/ trafficker. Watch the video and consider the 5 tactics a trafficker employs.

1. Pretender 2. Provider 3. Protector 4. Promiser 5. Punisher

Ride Along: Detective Dan Steele from iEmpathize on Vimeo.

"You have to go on the assumption that this is happening in your community. First and foremost, be knowledgeable on the subject..." Dan Steele

Today's action, beyond becoming more knowledgeable by watching this video, is to put this national hotline number in your phone. Do not hesitate to call or text for help, a tip, or advice.

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Do You See Me? A Question for Girls

Someone wise whom I can't remember said, "I write to know what I think." This is one of those.

My prayer today went like this:

God, I need a break!

I need a break from picking up the pieces every afternoon, as day crawls into evening and we are pulling punching bag up stairs to be beaten and to absorb the pain that we are weary of absorbing...

I need a victory because she needs a victory, desperately, and one that lasts longer than an afternoon.

I need her to come home smiling, for real, and not just because in her hunger and relief to be safe she has forgotten that really she's in pain.

I need her to eagerly walk out the door, just one day, instead of having to nudge her to walk the 50 yards to the bus stop and do it all again.

And it's torture to make us relive this, we who were girls and have already suffered our fair share of junior high days and junior high girls and junior high boys and junior high male teachers who shouldn't be and junior high rejection!

How brutal to resurrect those feelings and double the shame, making every rejection our rejection, again and again.

I need a break!

I'm tired of praying for her best. I want her to win. For once, I want it to go as she wants it to go. I want her to come home victorious, not requiring hours of making sense of it and shaping it into something manageable, tolerable.

I want to stop questioning, every single day, if it's time to fight on her behalf or if this challenge is one to mold her. I am done wondering if she's processing it correctly or through skewed emotion.

So today when she comes home from tryouts and when the cast list is posted, I'm just warning you, I don't have much left. Tank is empty. I'm fragile and cracked. Hear me? Thank you for listening, God. Amen.

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Have you noticed that all of the hilarious, make me feel normal in the insanity of it all, videos of motherhood stop at adolescence? Lots of get-me-through-the day toddler videos and now-that-they-are-talking humor, but dead silence around the is-anyone-feeling-my-pain-with-these-pre-teens stage.

Or is the absence due to the awkward truth that their pain is so familiar, so similar to ours? Sure, there's the crazy stuff that comes with puberty and immaturity, as one blogger describes so well. There's also the stuff of life, the crap we adults face all the time, put so well by Halee Gray Scott.

Perhaps the torture I felt today is that the question my daughter asks of friends, teachers, and coaches is "Do you see me?" and it's the same question I'm still asking.

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I wonder, is it the question every girl asks?

Caught in my own Hypocrisy

O Timeless God, for whom I do not have time,catch me with a sudden stab of beauty or pain or regret that will catch me up short for a moment to look hard enough at myself - the unutterable terror and hope within me and, so, to be caught by you. (Guerrillas of Grace, Ted Loder)

And so it was that I found myself knee-deep in hypocrisy, wading through the judgemental reaction I had to a bunch of kids at the park. Regret and confusion, followed by terror and then a little hope.

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To be fair, they were not kids. Not like the two little girls I had brought to play. At the water's edge, the girls watched curiously as one of the older teenagers dove into the river and his friends held his cigarette and said, "Mother F...r!" I glared and then we moved.

At the playground, the girls climbed through rings and paused on bars with rapt attention to the group on the spinning thing. Chains, smoke, swagger... and at least one ankle monitor. I stared from my perch nearby. The ankle monitor threw me. Usually I would say something to smoking swearing teens taking over an area meant for younger children. But the unknown silenced me. Why was he being monitored? What if he had been violent? My eyes surely betrayed the disgust I felt even through the tinted glasses covering them. We moved.

In the sandpit, the girls dug a fort and hid beneath a structure while a third group of skateboarders balanced cigarettes in mouths and skated down the toddler slide. Judgement abounded. This side of town. These kinds of kids.

They congregated in the parking lot next to my car and we made a game plan on the way. The girls were to crawl through my door and if there was the slightest problem, run back to that man who just arrived with his boys. Devising worse case scenarios are normal for me, but I hadn't felt this nervous in years.

And then we were fine, driving away, and my daughter's friend is saying, those were bad kids.

Suddenly each face flashes before me as I wonder if those bad kids had been in my anti-sex trafficking trainings? Or will they be in the one this week?

Are they good kids who just look bad? Good kids who act bad? Bad kids who could become good?

Who am I to decide when to be judgemental and when to be compassionate? I can't equip them in a training one day and send out laser beams of disgust when they infringe on my kid's innocence on another. Vulnerable youth are vulnerable youth wherever they are and I am regretting my attitude as we drive away. I don't get to pick and choose when to be loving, full of mercy, and searching for the back story.

I am a hypocrite.

But I had prayed.

I had invited God to catch me with a sudden stab of pain or regret that will catch me up short for a moment to look hard at myself - the unutterable terror and hope within me.

I am both - the tension of ugly and beauty entangled within, always. And just like those kids...

I will try harder to see next time. And I thank God for catching me.

photo credit: Creative Commons

Beauty out of Chaos: The Art of Movement (Part 2)

Creative Welcome to Part 2 of the series, Beauty out of Chaos and the Sacredness of Art. We're exploring the idea of how we mimic God in our creativity (see part 1) and today I'm interviewing Connie Jakab, founder of Mpact Dance Company and author of Culture Rebel. Connie has some powerful things to share about identity and beauty (of one's self?) coming about through community. The dance actually creates and births that identity formation. Question #4 is still stirring in me...

1. Connie, this series is born out of my own exploration of beauty coming out of chaos and how artists imitate God's creative work. I think it's vital to humanity and has more power than we've yet to uncover. Can you speak into this a bit?

I couldn't agree more! The art of storytelling through writing, dance, theatre, visual art, photography has a way of engaging people, bringing them into the story to be experienced with their senses. Creator God works through creation! He loves seeing something come from nothing that tells of His glory! When we can use these mediums to reveal who He is to our world I believe His beauty can shine. Ironically, His beauty in us shines brighter as well. The one who is most impacted by the message is the artist, the choreographer, the author. That is beautiful.

2. I've loved following your work with Mpact! I want to hear everything about it! Can you start by sharing about your own story of movement and how you experienced transformation and beauty through it?

I started dancing at the age of 22 for two reasons: One, I had just finished Bible College and hadn't been in contact with the "outside" world for four years. Two, I was struggling with some serious weight issues and was afraid to go to the gym. Being overweight made me very insecure. Dance class was fun and a place to connect with society. I started teaching movement to the youth I was working with in East Vancouver. Eventually this would lead to me opening my own dance space in East Vancouver that hosted battles and classes for lower-income, at risk youth. You could say that much of my calling to reach the broken has manifested through dance. I've also found a journey to health and wellness through it as well.

3. Tell us about how the youth culture intersects with movement and community building. What are you creating together at Mpact?

Hip Hop Culture is empowering for youth. With Mpact we are creating and redefining community through igniting courage and compassion into the hearts of youth. Youth are longing for identity and belonging. This is what we seek to bring them through what hip hop calls, "The Cypher" which I've explained more in my next answer. Why is identity important?

It is the foundation that drives one forward into destiny. In contrast, a lack of revelation of one's identity will lead to despair. Identity is the understanding of the great value we have and who we belong to. It comes to us not by education, but revelation. It's more caught than it is taught. The heart has to embrace it. It's not something we can just "know" in our minds.

People are told to "believe in themselves" by mass marketing, educators, motivational speakers and even preachers. "You can do it! Just believe you can!" This is something everyone deserves to have; an encounter with the beauty within that comes from the very image of the Creator. However, identity and belief in oneself was never meant to be an individual process. You can wake up in the morning determined to believe in your personal value all you want, but the minute you step out your door, that belief will be tried, tested and come directly against by:

- your own doubts and assumptions about yourself - mis-reading (or correctly reading) someone's negative body language or look towards you - opposition - sometimes downright cruelty - discouraging words - trauma - the list could go on

By the time you arrive home in the evening, every ounce of determination you had to "believe in yourself" has been sucked out, leaving you feeling defeated. Clearly, we can't do this on our own, can we?

It's because we were never meant to have identity reinforced by our own selves. We were born for community.

The intention we have at Mpact for community is to reinforce and strengthen identity and value in one another. It was meant to become a shelter, a safe place for those who've had a rough day. When haters come in droves, the community protects, builds up and provides rest for the crushed soul. Courage floods a heart when 20 others speak words of life into your spirit. Who doesn't thrive in an atmosphere of safety and belonging?

However, there are many who are struggling in this fight alone. All you have to do is scroll through a news feed on Facebook to see numerous status updates stating something along the lines of; "When haters hate, it only makes me stronger" type of statements. Somehow, we've taken on the role of self-protection which has driven us all into isolated caves with protective walls so high no one could ever see in.

Ironically, our self-protection keeps the greatness inside caged in us as well.

Greatness is released fully in community. It's released when others call out my destiny. When they hold me accountable not to "shouldn'ts" but to my identity, I thrive. When I can fail and not be shamed, but applauded for trying, I'm more likely to try again. When my community doesn't let me sit on my arse because they are just as committed to my success as I am, I push past my own limitations faster.

I see this reality as I reflect back on where I would be if it weren't for the people who invested into me, spoke words of life into my heart and told me to stop being so lazy and get moving. In myself, I don't have what it takes to move me the way they were able to. God used them in ways I will never forget.

When we build communities that become safe places that speak life, people thrive and become courageous. It produces something that individuals cannot do, and were never meant to be able to produce on their own.

4. I'm super excited about The Cypher: A show about Belonging and wish I could road trip to Canada. Can you explain the concept of the cypher, this show, and maybe share about a particular youth who has participated?

"What makes a youth resilient?" "Why do some in this life overcome incredible odds, while others flounder?" These are questions that stir inside me. I'm hungry for answers. I long for all to see resilience; for none to fall through the cracks. The question is, "how"?

After experiencing bullying as a teen, one of the scariest experiences of my life has been going into what hip hop culture calls, "The Cypher". Being heavier and having past experiences of bullying makes the centre of the cypher the LAST place I ever wanted to find myself. In a world of judgment, hatred, and ridicule, it's a vulnerable place to dance on your own with a circle of eyes staring you down, yet I was surprised to find the centre of the cypher to be a game changer for me in terms of reclaiming my identity and finding out how powerful community really is.

This is where I discovered a powerful truth: "We" have the power to create identity in one another. Inside each of us is the power to either create an atmosphere around us where "we" are for one another, calling out one another's strengths and beauty, or disabling and shaming one another to isolation, depression and hopelessness. That's a lot of power.

We have the ability to create resilience in one another. What if Pink Shirt Day became a historical event, rather than an annual plea to "stop bullying"? We have the capacity to make that kind of change if we understand the power of "we". Belonging creates resilience inside of people. The potential is limitless together. It's absurdly simple.

Connie headshotConnie Jakab is the author of the book, Culture Rebel, released fall 2012. Connie is passionate about rebelling against status quo living and encouraging others to branch out. Connie is an active member of poverty reduction in her city, the founder of WILD (women impacting lives daily) as well as Mpact (www.mpactdance.com), a dance company that produces shows based on social justice issues, Connie drives her passion outward into the arms of those wanting something more radical and meaningful in life. Connie is an active speaker and lives with her husband and two boys in Calgary, Alberta Canada. She can be found on twitter and instagram. @ConnieJakab.

Connie is honoured to be a part of the Redbud Writers Guild

Q&A with Divine Makeover author, Sharla Fritz

DiVineblogtour_3 (1) Today I have the privilege of introducing you to a wonderful study for young girls, Divine Makeover, by Sharla Fritz. Sharla answers a few questions for us, but before we get to that, I'll tell you what my tween thought! I had her read some of the study and plan on having her go through the entire thing in our upcoming "Becoming Women" year. Modesty is certainly something we'll be addressing and it was the chapter I had her read. She was struck by the idea that even though times and attire have changed, God's desire for modesty has not. I am hopeful this helps as we shop for summer clothes in the next few weeks!

1. What struggles do you see the younger generation having?

I remember as a teen thinking that no one would ever think I was beautiful, no one would ever love me. Almost all of us go through an awkward stage where we doubt our beauty and worth. (Some of us never outgrow that stage!)

Plus, in this age, the emphasis on physical beauty is greater than ever before. Celebrities are scrutinized for their hair styles, makeup, and clothing choices. Ordinary girls are slammed when they don’t wear the coolest brands. Every year hundreds of thousands of teens are so dissatisfied with their looks that they resort to plastic surgery.

I’m hoping that Divine Makeover will help young women discover their worth not in what clothes they are wearing on the outside, but on the clothing of their character.

2. You talk about some myths of modesty? What are they?

I think three modern myths of modesty are: Modesty is old-fashioned, modesty means wearing a burlap bag, and modesty means following a strict set of clothing rules. Modesty is an enduring principle because the Bible tells us that “Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control” (1Timothy 2:9). Because God’s Word never goes out of style, this advice is not just for women of Timothy’s day, but for us too.

We might think that if we dress modestly we can’t be stylish, but that isn’t necessarily true. It may mean that we have to adapt styles: wearing a camisole under a too-low top, adding leggings to a dress that’s a bit too short, or wearing a cute jacket or sweater over a top that’s too form-fitting.

I have seen sites and books that give strict rules for lengths of skirts and depths of necklines. But I think rules sometimes beg to be broken, so I think a better way to view modesty is as a way to dress with respect: respect for the beauty God gave you, respect for God’s Word, and respect for the gift of sexuality—which God has reserved for marriage.

3. You include some dramatic stories of teens who struggled with their self-image. Tell us about them.

Yes. Some young women graciously shared their stories with me. One young woman battled anorexia for a time in her life. When she looked in the mirror, she saw herself as fat, even though she definitely wasn’t. She bravely shared her story of how she eventually discovered that she had become obsessed with food and a totally skewed view of her body. Eventually she learned to choose to see herself as God saw her—His much-loved daughter.

Another young woman discovered she had alopecia. She lost all of her hair. In this society that worships thick, long manes of hair, she struggled to see herself as beautiful. She doubted that any man would ever love her. She has never regained her hair, but she has regained a healthy self-image because of her trust in God.

Both of these women are now in their twenties and happily married.

 

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Would you like a copy of Divine Makeover for your teenage daughter? Share your story and be entered to win a basket of goodies, including a copy of the book, gift card, and more.

If we’ve found our “calling,” why isn’t life easier?

Vintage Typewriter-1 web I am pleased to be at Redbud Writer's Guild today processing a raw response to the IF: Gathering. Read a snippet here and head over to Redbud for the rest!

“I’m mad at God.”

It felt right and true as the words came out, even though I had had no such thought just moments prior.

I was huddled on my comfy couch with 3 women, one of whom I had met a mere hour earlier, to watch the live stream of IF: Gathering. Months before, when the leaders opened up registration and threw out the fee, 1200 women signed up in 42 minutes. The 4 of us were joining 25,000 others from around the world watching in living rooms, church halls, and cafes thanks to a decision to stream it live.

The sheer number of women gathered around a vague “conference” indicates the desire which exists in our generation for something different, authentic and raw. And from the get go, when each and every woman involved in the planning, speaking, and creating of the weekend came to the mic and prayed, authenticity abounded.

This was the atmosphere shaping the discussion time in which I took a question card that read, “What is in between you and peace with God?” I thought I was going to say boredom. It felt safer. But I didn’t. And even as I was speaking words almost too raw for my own soul to bear, I felt exposed and real and hopeful all at once.

I had been harboring a low simmering anger with Jesus.

Read the rest on Redbud Writer's Guild.

Snowfall on a Teen

The snow fell heavy this week and still sticks to trees and drips slowly off rooftops. It is lovely now that the sun shines bright and light dances atop huge flakes. I am in search of a tree-lined street not too far, but have failed to find one. Instead, my teenager ventured outside with me for a bit, promises of food to bribe cooperation. He has always been cute, but now I think handsome. I see man. TeenBoySnowPortrait

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