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This is what ATI teaches families like the Duggars

A few months ago, when the news initially broke about Josh sexually abusing his sisters and others, I wrote a post that examined some of the reasons why his parents were able to cover up what he’d done so effectively: the purity culture they raised their children in blames women for their own assaults. Specifically, they used a program created by Bill Gothard, a man known for sexually harassing women and minors (Josh Duggar received his “counseling” from Gothard’s ministry). This program is known as the Advanced Training Institute (ATI).

I was able to include some of the material that laid out ATI’s approach to counseling abuse victims, and it is horrific. Well, today I’d like to share a few more pieces of information, because it lays out all the reasons why the Duggars (or anyone like them) should not be allowed within spitting distance of TLC’s upcoming documentary.

ati 1

Salient quote:

Do you know what provokes attacks?

  • Evaluate Dress
  • Choose friends Wisely

ati 2

Salient quote:

God has established some very strict guidelines or responsibility for a woman who is attacked. She is to cry out for help. The victim who fails to do so is equally guilty with the attacker.

I decided a long time ago that if that is who God is, I want nothing to do with them. That God is an absolute monster, but that’s the sort of God that fundamentalist families like the Duggars believes exists.

ati 4

Salient quote:

A woman was startled one night by an intruder who broke into her apartment. The attacker stated his intentions, and she replied “You’ll have to kill me first because I’ve given my body and my life to the Lord.”

In this culture it is actually preferable for a woman to die than to “lose her virginity,” even through rape.

~ ~ ~

The Duggars aren’t the only family in America to follow and believe these ideas. The ATI annual conferences see thousands of attendees, and the intersections between fundamentalist Christianity and conservative politics are numerous and influential. This isn’t something we can hold up as an example of extreme fundamentalism gone so wrong it’s easy to make fun of. This shit is serious, and important, because the people who believe these things aren’t fringe. Misogyny and victim-blaming are part of the core values of the homeschooling and Tea Party movements, and that shouldn’t be dismissed.


new home

This is the first official day of, and I couldn’t be more excited about the move. There’s still a little more work to be done, some wrinkles to smooth, but I am so happy with the way the new site turned out.

There’s a few changes from the old blog– most notably the blogroll and ‘posts I’ve liked’ widgets. That means I’ll probably start doing a “here’s some stuff I think you might enjoy reading” post every once in a while. You also can’t follow me through the WordPress app or your WordPress accounts anymore, but you can find me in Feedly, Bloglovin’ and an RSS feed link I’ll add once I figure out how to do that. There’s also plain old-fashioned e-mail subscriptions, which you can see in the sidebar under “Mailing List.”

Anyway, I hope you’ll explore the new digs and let me know what you think!


become a Patron

I started this blog in February 2013 for a few reasons, but, honestly, the biggest one was boredom. My health won’t allow me to be employed full-time, and I discovered after about a month of getting married and moving in with him that I needed something to do besides read books, play video games, and surf the internet. I’d blogged before (anyone remember Xanga?) and had started reading blogs like Sarah Moon’s and Elizabeth Esther’s and Dianna Anderson’s and Rachel Held Evan’s, and figured– I can do that. It seems like fun.

I never in a million years expected what happened. The first day I got more than fifty visitors Handsome came home to me in the fetal position because I was so overwhelmed. Fifty people read my blog that day. I didn’t know what to do with that. But, by the end of the year I’d gotten a quarter of a million hits and it was more than a little mind boggling.

To this day I’m still a little confused as to why y’all keep showing up to read what I have to say three times a week, but I am so incredibly grateful. I’ve said this before, but I really do think of this space as a community. Over the past few years I feel like I’ve really gotten to know some of you, and consider you colleagues. Some days, knowing that you’re here is why I drag myself out of bed. Knowing that I can count on you to deal with the occasional jackass helps, too.

I’m eternally interested in what you have to say, and you have taught me so much. Your investment here, in this community, is why I’m hoping that you might consider becoming a Patron.

I heard about Patreon last year, and the concept intrigued me. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it– the idea of a “tip jar” or asking for money made me a little nervous– but I appreciated that someone(s) had taken the time to create a platform like it. But, I’ve decided to go ahead and create a “Patreon campaign,” as they call it, for a few reasons.

The first, and biggest, is that I’m moving to a self-hosted blog! Exciting! (Well, to me, anyway). Hopefully in the next two to three month will be up and running, and I could not be happier about it. Having my own domain name helps with professionalism and credibility, and I get to have a logo and other fancy stuff. However, hosting your own blog costs a little bit, and I’d like to keep ads minimal and unobtrusive– which is where Patreon comes in. $30 a month would cover all my self-hosting costs.

Having support through Patreon would also make it possible for me to do things like go to conferences. I was invited to attend the Faith and Culture Writers Conference last year, but I couldn’t go because it was in Portland and just the plane ticket was out of our budget. I’d also be able to put out a free e-book (like on how complementarian theology is really just the rationalizations of abusers wrapped up in pretty paper), and I think having material like that freely accessible could be a really good thing.

One of the more important reasons, though, is that it would allow me to stop pitching my best writing ideas to other blogs and magazines. I could keep all my best work here where it hasn’t been put through another editor’s vision, which can be a neutral experience to something downright infuriating. For example, I wrote a piece for Relevant last year, and they took anything “controversial” out of it, which made it weak and insipid. I hated what they did to it, but I had no control over what got posted. Being confident that I can keep my own blog running means I won’t have to worry about that so much anymore.

Anyway, I set up the Patron where it’s per month, and you can commit to any amount you feel like– even just a dollar. You can find the campaign here, and it would be incredible if you shared it around wherever you feel comfortable doing so.

As an aside: Patreon has a “rewards” program where, if you pledge “X” amount per month I can offer a reward. Except, I have no idea what to even offer– so, give me some ideas! What sorts of things would you like that you don’t already see around here?

Photo by Dave Dugdale

book review: "Searching for Sunday" by Rachel Held Evans

I sat down to start reading Searching for Sunday a little over a month and a half ago, and I couldn’t get past page xvi before I was sobbing. I’ve been reading this paragraph out loud to everyone I know, and it’s one of the things that rang inside of my soul like a sonorous bell:

This book is entitled Searching for Sunday, but it’s less about searching for a Sunday church and more about searching for Sunday resurrection. It’s about all the strange ways God brings dead things back to life again. It’s about giving up and starting over again. It’s about why, even on days when I suspect all this talk of Jesus and resurrection and life everlasting is a bunch of bunk designed to coddle us through an essentially meaningless existence, I should still like to be buried with my feet facing the rising sun.

Just in case.

And I’m sobbing again. That sentence– I should still like to be buried with my feet facing the rising sun— is exactly where I am right now. Exactly. It put every agonized, spirit-wrenching emotion I’ve had over the last few months into a dozen words. I sat my Nook down and cried like a baby until Handsome asked me what was wrong and we had a four-hour-long conversation about why we’re still bothering with this whole “being a Christian” thing.

This book was for me, and I think this book might be for a lot of you, too. If there’s a part of you– a big part, a small part– that is whispering the question why am I still a Christian? then I think you might need to read this. Not because she has some earth-shattering answer that will miraculously solve all our problems. I didn’t finish this book, set it down, and think to myself “ah, this was just the thing I needed to get me to go to church again.” I still have reservations, and questions, and doubts, and the thought of walking into a church still terrifies me. But it did help make hope a little more possible.

Since we left our last church, I came to the conclusion that my emotional well-being will not let me attend a church where a) women are barred from any form of leadership whatsoever, and complementarian messages are preached from the pulpit in subtle or overt ways, and/or b) anyone in church leadership embraces the “love the sinner, hate the sin” approach to the LGBTQ community. Those may not be hard lines for you (nor do they have to be), but they are for me now. Finding a church that doesn’t conflict with either of those has been … difficult. The longer I’m away from church, the easier it is to wake up like I did yesterday, make cinnamon buns and read The Great Hunt out loud to my partner while I pet my cat.

But the longer I’m away from church, the more a sliver in the back corners of my heart hungers for the bread the wine. Reading Searching for Sunday was a gentle, gracious, gorgeous reminder that I do believe in the sacraments. I do believe in the Body. Reading her chapters on Communion was one of the most sacred experiences I’ve ever had, and it gave me the nudge I needed to start reaching out again. I don’t know where this road will take me– maybe further away from church, from faith, I don’t know. But I want to hope. I want to believe. I want to try again, even if I get terribly burned.

Going through this book was comforting, and encouraging. It was like sitting down with a friend and drinking tea and being honest in a way that terrifies both of you, but once you start talking you can’t seem to stem the flow of words. Each slicing knife wound is recounted, each euphoric moment comes out tinged over with a little bit of sadness. You’re sad because you wish your faith were still that simple, that fresh and naive– and sad because you know that those moments of happiness came in the middle of suffering, and the pain made those brief moments of joy seem like ambrosia.

But we can’t get rid of who we are. There are many days, many weeks when I wish I could pave over my life and pretend like there isn’t a graveyard underneath what I’m building, but our lives aren’t like that. At one point in the book, Rachel uses the metaphor of a palimpsest, and that image made me catch my breath. My theology might look and feel completely and utterly removed from anything I thought or believed as a child, but there are remnants peeking through, things I won’t ever be able to shake.

I won’t ever be able to forget the look on my pastor’s wife when I tried to tell her I’d been sexually assaulted and she called me a liar who was only jealous of his musical talents.

But I won’t ever be able to forget it when I came to her, unsure that I’d been “sorry enough” when I’d said the sinner’s prayer, and she hugged me and took her face into my hands and said that wasn’t up to me, that the only thing that mattered was that Jesus loved me.

I won’t ever be able to forget the time a family friend lectured and berated me for not respecting my mother enough to clean our house like Martha Stewart would when I was 10, contributing to a complex that still has me panicking before anyone sees my home.

But I’ll never forget the look on her face when she came to my senior piano recital and she was so proud of me she could have burst, or that when she hugged me afterward she cried when she told me she loved me.

For better or for worse, all of those things are part of who I am today, all so mixed up and confusing it would be easier if I could set it all aside. However, Rachel reminded me that the God I believe in is one who makes all things new. She cares for the broken things, even the dead things, and restores them.


Searching for Sunday officially releases tomorrow, although if you’re near a brick-and-mortar Barnes & Noble some already have it stocked. If you buy it sometime this week and show a proof of purchase, you gain access to the “launch celebration” goodies. And yes, I got a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.


which book should I review next? your pick!

I have a small-ish library in my office, with four filled-to-bursting bookcases (English major, what can I say?). One of those bookcases has what my partner refers to as the “caution tape shelf.” It’s the shelf I set aside for all the books I’ve amassed that are anything from mildly irritating to absolutely horrific. I don’t want their bookjackets contaminating all my other lovely books, after all.

I’m sitting here looking at it, and was attempting to decide which book I should choose next for my Monday review series. Eventually I gave up and decided to ask all of you. It’s a a slightly different list than the last time I did this– not all of them are in the “marriage-advice” category this time around. Each of them, however, is a well-read book in evangelical circles and all have some pretty serious problems.

[edit 3.29.15: I’ve narrowed the poll to the three most popular choices]

If you’re not familiar with these books, here’s a short break-down:

How to Win Over Depression is, in my opinion, one of the worst books written. Ever. I’m having a hard time trying to come up with a worse book. It’s one of the books that started the “you can pray away your mental illness!” approach to “biblical counseling” back in the 70s. This book has killed people.

Lies Women Believe I read when I was a student at PCC, and my memories of it are that it was vaguely encouraging. It would be interesting to go through this one an re-experience it now. I imagine it would be a bit like how some of you responded to going through Captivating again. Helpful at the time … but not so helpful now.

Redeeming Love is slightly different because it’s fiction, but it’s equally as horrible as all the rest. Rape? Check. Misogyny? Check. Horrible theology? Check. Thank you, Francine Rivers, for taking Hosea and Gomer and making that story worse.

Anyway, let me know which one you’d like to see me rip to shreds!

Photo by Ginny

two random things for you to enjoy, possibly

So, for a variety of reasons, yesterday was a suck-tastic day for me, so no Zimzum post this week, I’m sorry. I’m trying to give my wrist a break, since my tendonitis is acting up– but that doesn’t mean there isn’t stuff I can’t share with you all.

I have another post up at The Mary Sue, and once again I am over the moon at the opportunity to write for them. I geek out every time one of my posts go up. This one, in particular, I am very proud of since it was pretty labor-intense on the research side of things. Watching women die over and over again so I could try to capture what happened to them in as few words as possible was … an interesting way to spend last month, let me tell you.

Anyway, here it is: “It’s [Not] Ok”: How Women Die in Comic Book Movies.”

I also had another opportunity to be interviewed for a radio program, this time for BBC4’s “Beyond Belief,” covering Moses, the Exodus, and interestingly enough the Christian homeschooling movement and the “Generation Joshua” nonsense. If you just want to listen to my segment, it starts at 14 minutes in, but the whole program is worth listening to.

You can find it here. It’s the January 5th episode, which you can download there, listen to it streaming in their player, and it’s also available for download from the iTunes store if you are an Apple person.

I think some of the scholars might have gotten the impression that I’m anti-Judaic (I mention something about God condemning how the Israelites were greedy and power-hungry in the minor prophets and how the conquest of Canaan is a pretty disturbing bit of the Bible), but hopefully you all know that I’m not. If not, well … I’m definitely not anti-Judaism or anti-Semitic. Like every other white person in America I have absorbed anti-Semitic ideas, and there was a lot of “the Church has replaced Israel because they just kept messing it up” in my Sunday school, but I will always fight against those things. If you think that something in what I said sounds anti-Judaic, I would appreciate having that conversation with you.

Photo by Ilmicrofono Oggiono

happy stuffs

 The past few weeks on the blog have been a little rough for me. Between talking about spanking and sexism and racism a bunch of times, I’ve been dealing with the more unpleasant side of the internet, and I thought it could be time to have something a little more lighthearted.

First of all: Spotify has changed my life. I’ve been using Pandora since grad school, but once I discovered the brilliance that is Spotify I couldn’t turn back. There’s whole stations for celtic spa and indie Irish music, which makes me so very happy. I also bought Sara Barielles’ The Blessed Unrest, and while I think I still like Kaleidescope Heart better, I really love songs like “Little Black Dress” and “Brave” makes me cry every single time. Also, P!NK is everything. I bought a few of her albums for a road trip recently and tortured Handsome with pop music for a couple hours. And Queen’s A Night at the Opera is sheer genius, everyone. I’d never listened to the entire album start-to-finish before, and it is gold.

I’ve also been getting back into reading again — really reading. When I was in graduate school, reading fiction became part of my job, and it took me a couple years after I’d finished the program to really want to read for fun again. I’ve been reading a lot of religious and feminist non-fiction for the past couple of years as part of my “job” (blogging), and I hadn’t read any fiction besides Brandon Sanderson and L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

Anyway, I started going to a book club because I wanted to be able to talk about books with readers again, and my first visit was amazing. The format is interesting– everyone reads their own books, brings it to talk about, and then we borrow books from each other. I walked away with Bee Ridgway’s River of No Return, which I really enjoyed. It’s written by a literature professor, and what I loved best was that the characters sounded like they belonged in the time period of Regency England. They used pop culture references, they quoted the well-known poetry, they used biblical allusions … and it was all so natural and easy and I only noticed because I was neck deep in early 19th century literature all the way through graduate school.

I also picked up Elizabeth Moon’s Deed of Paksenarrion trilogy, and I didn’t want it to end. It’s pretty old-school fantasy in a lot of ways, and very character-driven. The books follow “Paks,” and while there is a single plotline that is threaded from the opening pages to the conclusion, it meanders along with Paks’ journey. The two main themes are religious tolerance (which is interesting, since she wrote a pretty gosh-darn Islamaphobic piece in 2010) and redemptive suffering– although that theme only really becomes apparent in Oath of Gold, the last book in the trilogy. I didn’t really like the heavy-handedness with the religious imagery at the end (she becomes a Christ figure), but other than that I really enjoyed the trilogy because it’s a medieval epic fantasy in a realm where it’s commonplace for women to become soldiers and thrones can pass to daughters and the heads of religious orders are women and it’s all just assumed that this is the way things should be. Take that, G. R. R. Martin.

For non-fiction I’m reading Generation Roe, The Bible Tells Me So, and Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution. All, so far, are pretty good.

I found a new YouTube-r that I really like because of her straight-faced sarcastic humor. She’s so on-point and I love these two videos especially:

And not funny, and possibly not interesting to anyone but me, but when I’m feeling really stressed and just done with the world GAH, I watch hairstyling and makeup tutorials. Don’t ask me why they’re so soothing, but they are. I discovered this stylist who makes me feel like I could do updos because he does things with brushes and bobbypins that I’ve never seen before and he makes it look easy. It’s probably not easy, but I’m going to try this one anyway:

[skip to 1:35 to miss the ridiculously long intro]

Anyway, these are the things that have been making me happy of late. What about you guys?

Photo by Blondinrikard Fröberg

addressing accusations that I'm a liar

I don’t know how to describe how I’m feeling right now. I’m shaken, and angry. Deeply disappointed, shocked … and horrified.

Someone who is claiming to have been “close” with me when I was at Pensacola Christian College is accusing me of being a liar and of ripping all of my stories off of her from the brief time when we were roommates in college.

Because this person is a part of the post-fundamentalist survivor community, and because she’s claiming to have known me well, I’m going to address her accusations and claims one by one.

True, we’ve “known” each other for years. We met, officially, when we were roommates for a little while when we were both taking extra courses after the semester had ended. Because there were so few people left on campus and my normal circle of friends were all at home, she took me under her wing and I got to hang out with her friend group, which I very much appreciated. The next semester however, things went back to normal and we went back to our own friend groups. So yes, we “knew” each other, but our relationship was fairly … superficial. She was not what I would call a “close friend,” and never was.

However, she claims that she “knows everything about me,” which is just … laughably ridiculous. We were roommates for two weeks, and did not move in the same social circles– although those circles occasionally peripherally touched through one of my best friends (who, for the record, doesn’t think I’m lying and actually knows everything about me).

She claims that my parents “catered to my every whim,” that they paid my way through college, that I never had to work a day in my life, “not in undergrad, at least,” all of which is completely false.

I worked for housekeeping, cleaning the MacKenzie building bathrooms and lobby while I was a student. Later, I got a job working at Kohl’s as a cashier, intending for it to be a summer job, but I got permission from the administration to start working in March, because I was in “training” (this was a highly unusual decision. I’m still surprised they let me do any of this). I would leave after my copy writing class, usually, driving 1 1/2 to get there,work until 11 or midnight, then drive 20 minutes to get home, sleep, then wake up in time to make the hour-long drive back to campus in time for my 8 am class.

Before I attended PCC, when I decided I wanted to go to college my senior year, my piano teacher started placing me in a lot of competitions where you could win money or scholarships. Through my dedication and extreme amount of work, I put together enough scholarship money to cover 1/4 of my college tuition and room and board. My parents paid the rest, which I have never once claimed that they didn’t. In the article that I wrote for RHE, I even explicitly stated that my parents had been supportive of my undergrad degree. I supported myself through graduate school, paying my own bills and rent and buying my own groceries. I had to go into debt in order to buy groceries.

My family– as I have stated repeatedly— did not enter the heavy Christian fundamentalism until I was 10 years old. As I have stated before, we didn’t start following the strict “modesty” standards until that point. So yes, in a way I “grew up wearing jeans” if you count up until I was 10. After that point, I was never allowed to wear anything that wasn’t extremely, extremely “modest.” Everyone in my church wore the Hyles-Anderson culotte pattern with the gigantic yolk and massive pleats (which I have posted photographic evidence of on my blog) until my sophomore year in college. At that point, my parents had left the crazy church-cult and one of my best friends dragged me to the mall to buy me a pair of jeans– an experience I have written about. It was my first pair of jeans in 11 years. I have been forthcoming and straightforward about all of this.

I’m not exactly sure how watching “How I Met Your Mother” is relevant to all of her accusations that I’m a liar, except that I had never seen an episode until graduate school. My parents didn’t even have cable for a long time– our next door neighbor would record Star Trek: Voyager for us every week. I remember dashing over to their house if we got home from church early enough so that we could watch it that night. I introduced my mother to HIMYM, who was initially a little disturbed that every joke was about sex until she decided it was hysterically funny. I still haven’t seen the last season, so please no spoilers!

As for “Really, the worst thing that ever happened to her was some of the more peripheral horribleness occasionally had a vague effect on her,” …. that … all I can say is wow do you not know anything about my life at all. Our church experience was so bad that my mother was suicidal. I have had entire messages preached against me– just me– from the pulpit. It has taken me so many years trying to process and overcome my experience because of that horrible church, and I’m still trying to do so. I am utterly blown away that a woman who barely knows anything about me thinks she can assert something like this.

I’ve never shared enough detail about my rape on my blog, or on facebook, or with any of my friends that she could possibly make a claim that my details are “constantly shifting.” We went to a funeral, then we went out to look at the chapel we were getting married in, then we drove to his home, then he raped me. She claims that my assertion that “I didn’t know I was raped until two years later” is false because I apparently screamed “rape!” while he was raping me– which, I have no idea where she got that from. I have said– repeatedly– that I begged him to stop, that I told him “no” over and over again, and I did not know that meant that he was raping me. I was utterly convinced because of all the messages I got from purity culture that I must have done something to lead him on, that I must be to blame somehow, even though I said no, and that has been my consistent message the entire time I’ve been blogging.

As for this notion that I’ve ripped stories off of her? Well… ok, we both had our fair share of experiences in extremely conservative fundamentalism, and I honestly don’t remember that much of her story, except that it was utterly heartbreaking. We talked some about her experiences with ATI– which I had never heard of until she started talking about it, although now that I’m more familiar with Gothard it’s obvious my ‘pastor’ was– while we were roommates. It seems entirely possible that we’d have extremely similar experiences at some points.

So… yeah. I’m really sick that someone would claim to know me so well when so many of her accusations are demonstrably, provably false. It’s insane to me that she’s claiming to know much more than she actually does in order to accuse me of being a liar.

You can make what you will of her accusations if you’ve heard them. I can’t control who believes me, and I’ve been accused of being a liar before. But what hurts me the most is that she’s accusing me of exploiting rape victims in order to be famous. That cuts so deeply, because I have never wanted to be “famous.” If you actually knew me, you’d know that I’ve stayed up at night, panicking, because I’d gotten 500 hits on my blog that day, crying while my partner held me because I was so freaked out that people were reading my blog. I’ve had a lot of opportunities since I’ve started blogging, and every single last one of them has been terrifying. I want to help victims of sexual violence because I am one, and I know what it’s like to have no one believe you.

Waking up to this this morning has been … beyond words. But I had to address this because this person is claiming to be “close to me,” to have access to details and information she’s never had. If any of you saw her post making any of these accusations, I hope you’ll take what I have to say here into account. I apologize if this sounds a little scattered, but this was a difficult thing to wake up to and I’m having a hard time dealing with it.


"Spiritual Misfit" by Michelle DeRusha

spiritual misfit

Recently, I was invited by a friend of mine to join Crown’s Blogging for Books, which I think is a fantastic idea mostly because I get free books. The first book I ordered was Michelle DeRusha’s Spiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Uneasy Faith.

The title resonated with me. I’ve always felt a bit like an outsider no matter what situation I was in, but most especially in church. There was always a part of me that wondered do I belong here, really belong? I still don’t have an answer to that question, but Spiritual Misfit helped.

If there was a single word I could choose for this book, it would be “comforting.” Michelle is approaching the questions I am struggling with right now with the perspective of someone much older. She’s been through a lot of what I’m going through, but now she’s on the far side of it looking back. I found a lot of value in that perspective, especially since Michelle is so honest about what it was like for her.

Another way to describe it would be beautifully ordinary. All my life I’ve never had to be told to “stop and smell the roses”—the simple wonders have always fascinated me, and it’s the small things I treasure. Cuddling with my partner while we watch Wolverine and the X-Men and munch on pumpkin loaf makes me so happy I could cry. Michelle’s book is filled with those kinds of moments—and her descriptions are delicate, but moving.

The thing that I appreciated the most about Spiritual Misfit was that Michelle’s approach to her faith is a bit like what mine is growing into. She emphasizes the importance of living your faith. The time in her life that the book focuses on was a time when she wasn’t sure if God existed, or if she had a “relationship with Jesus”—she saw other people having experiences that she didn’t share, and that was when I identified the most with Michelle. When other people are busy having spiritual epiphanies, I’ve been the skeptic silently observing, unable to believe in a reality I couldn’t seem to experience.

Instead of fixating on the intellectual questions, however, Micelle chooses to make her own “leap of faith” by trying to live by the teachings of Jesus. That decision makes so much sense to me, and it’s what I’m currently trying to embrace. I may never have a come-to-Jesus moment, but I can do my best to follow his teachings. She says something toward the end that I loved:

For a long time I was waiting for the perfect moment to declare my faith: the moment I had everything figured out, all the questions answered, the wrestling match finished. In the past I assumed my faith would “begin” when all my questions had answers, when I felt a certain way, when I acted in a certain way. I was waiting for all the pieces to fall into place so I could declare, once and for all, without a shadow of doubt, that I believed in God.

The reality, of course, is that the pieces of my faith had been falling into place all along. Asking “Why not?” was my way of surrendering, of accepting that the single, perfect moment, the moment when my questions were finally answered once and for all, was never going to happen. Asking “Why not?” was my way of realizing I could jump and still have questions. I didn’t know it at the time, but asking “Why not?” was my way of saying yes to Jesus’ invitation to jump.

Part of me doesn’t really like that. Like Michelle, I am an intellectual person, and I crave order and understanding. I just spent the last few months studying Trinitarianism, and it was … unbelievably frustrating. The fact that 2,000 years later Christians are all essentially shrugging our shoulders about something that is supposed to be one of THE defining doctrines of our religion… yup. I do not handle that well. I’d rather believe in a heresy like modalism than have it be that nebulous and incomprehensible.

So the fact that Michelle has gotten to this point in her life and has never found the answers that I spend most of my time desperately searching for—makes me sad, while somehow, still offering me peace. I’ve been trying to learn to “live in the gray,” to accept that it’s the questions that matter, but that is difficult when everything inside is screaming but I want to know.

Spiritual Misfit is a book about living in the gray, of not just enduring, but embracing the questions. It was comforting, and peaceful, and beautiful, and funny, and touching, and honest. I’d recommend giving it a read.


so I'm not dead

Things have been quiet around here for a couple weeks for a few reasons, so I figured I’d give you guys an update. Hopefully I should be back to regular blogging this week, but we’ll see.

Two weeks ago was The Week of Agony (also known as menstruation), and I spent the week curled up in the fetal position reading fantastic books and dealing with insomnia. Thank you, everyone, for the book recommendations in the comments and on twitter. I’m going to the library this week and I’m going to check all of them out.

Last week I was out of the house pretty much every day– running errands, helping pack away freezer meals for a friend who’s going to have a baby soon, giving another friend a ride because she was in a bit of a pinch…

I also found a pair of blue jeans that fit, miraculously. I decided to try on a pair of Lucky Brand flare jeans… and I walked out of the store with them, because those jeans were the first time in my life that I’d put on a pair of jeans that fit. I’m a “curvy” woman, which means that my waist is much smaller than my hips, and on top of that I have a large butt and thick thighs for my weight. I’m pretty thin-looking, but I do not feel thin when I can’t find a pair of pants that fit. If the jeans would fit my waist, it’s impossible to get them around my thighs or over my butt– but if they fit my thighs and butt, than there’s a Grand-Canyon sized gap in the back that no belt can close and they bulge around my inseam and make the front of me look like a boat. So when I pulled on those size-6 (size 6!) flare jeans and they made me look curvy and beautiful and feel skinny . . . well, there’s no saying “no” to that. Also, they were on sale, which helped me justify spending $85 on a single item of clothing.

I’ve  had a few pretty cool opportunities come up– I might be presenting at a conference in Minneapolis if they accept our panel (which they should). I’d be presenting with Addie Zierman and Elizabeth Esther, which would be incredible, because I love them. I also might be taking a trip out to California to speak at a Christian college about sex and consent this Fall or Spring, which would be absolutely mind-blowingly wonderful. Positive thoughts or prayers for these two opportunities would be much appreciated.

I’ve been working hard putting together everything I need for the YouTube channel. I was able to hire the marvelous and fabulous Dani Lee Kelley to put together a brand/logo set, and I’m excited to see the finished product. An early draft of what she’s been working on looks like this:

daughters of eve

And I think it’s beautiful and perfect so far.

I’ve finally settled on what my first video is going to be, and I’m excited to get that up sometime in the next few weeks. As I get closer to putting the first video up the more nervous and excited I get. When everything goes live I’ll get you all the social media and links stuff.

That all said, things are probably going to slow down around here. Between the YouTube channel and my job-that-actually-pays-me-some-money picking up a little bit, I’m not going to have as much time to write. I’ll still probably be able to manage a few posts a week, but the 1,200-words-a-day schedule I’ve been keeping is probably going the way of the do-do bird.

Anyway, love you all.