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Thank you, Beth.

I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior on July 9, 1997. I was 13 years old. Two days later, on the top of a bunk bed at Falls Creek Baptist Encampment, during what was our designated “quiet time,” I felt the call to ministry. Quite simply, in response to His saving grace, I felt that the least I could do was serve Him with everything I had.

I never doubted what I felt in those two moments. I went from wondering aimlessly, a broken kid from a broken place, to finally feeling like I wasn’t a piece of wasted space. Those moments still burst into my mind with utmost clarity, but the path after has been considerably more muddled.

Since then, I have struggled to find what I feel is my calling in a denomination where women are only allowed to love Jesus as fully as is denominationally acceptable. Women can serve Jesus, but most appropriately in a support position as a wife, working with women, or with children. We can gladly “direct” the children’s ministry, but any ministering or shepherding we may do only comes under a male role. We could be overseas missionaries, although I believe that there are some restrictions on that. (I do not know, I haven’t looked in years.) We are to study and learn about the Lord, but to speak freely about what we know is met often with disregard or even distain. On most theological issues, I agree with my denomination; politically and socially, I find very little common ground.

I learned that I would often be called a director, but not a minister. I could fight for licensing, but never ordination, even though it was simply my desire to have my calling acknowledged and not to somehow usurp the traditional male role. I was once fired from a church because I wasn’t “willing to do what a man would do.” I learned to doubt my voice and doubt my intelligence, although I felt like a pariah in many of my female circles due to my education and passion. Even now, in my traditional role as a mother and wife, I feel like I’m still caught in-between two worlds. Longing for more while knowing I’m doing what is good and right for right now. I’m tired of feeling like I’m too much and not enough at the same time.

I ache. I ache for more.

Beth Moore’s “A Letter to my brothers” brought tears to my eyes yesterday. I wept over the years of conflict in my soul. I ached for my sisters and brothers in Christ who have walked away from the denomination and even the faith they once held because they saw the abuse we have given each other “in the name of Christ.” I have spent most of my life with my mouth shut because I knew my belief didn’t line up with what we teach in the church. Even now, I know men who I have spent years with who would likely tear me apart and write me off as a heretic. We’ve walked away from a church we attended for a year because of their views on women. We’re currently attending a very nice place although I suspect that their views are similar. I’m just worn out trying to find a place in this denomination that openly recognizes that both men and women can be called to ministry and be equipped by God. I know I’m not alone in my conclusions towards women in ministry. I’ve had professors and other ministers encourage me to find a more welcoming place. They’ve all come to the conclusion that what I’m looking for cannot be found here. Perhaps they are right.

Until I feel the call to leave, the call for my entire family to find our place, here I must remain. I’m bruised, I’m weary, but I have hope. Beth Moore has helped show me where to look for hope all these years, and although she’s been vocally discredited in even my own circles, she’s been one to show me that you can love Jesus, study hard, preach the Word, and still be a woman. You’ll likely never read this, Beth, but thank you. Thank you for your letter.

In Him,

April

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The Diamond Anniversary.

I’ve had a long-standing case of writers block for quite a while now. Every time I sit down with the intent to put my feelings into words, I find myself sitting with my hands hovering over the keyboard. I write a few words and then I erase them all, over and over again.  I imagine that I look a bit like Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail, although it always bothered me that he didn’t simply hold down the backspace key rather than clicking it a hundred times. I’m sure it’s cinematic license, but it always drives me crazy.

I’ve been meaning to get back into this, but it’s hard. I find I appreciate keeping my thoughts to myself more with every pressing day. However, I can’t get my family off of my mind so here I am, theoretically putting my pen to paper, in order to sort out my thoughts.

On March 14, 1958, my grandparents were married. They were just shy of their 18th and 19th birthdays. They went to a justice of the peace in a town that didn’t require a blood test so they could marry quickly and she could go with him to a job the next day. I can’t put into words what these two people mean to me. Individually, they are both the type of people a person just wishes they could be. You’ve got a world traveller, someone strong and steady with a twinkle in his eye and a joke at the ready, and then you have a fireball, who approaches life with a uncontainable zeal no matter whether it is work or play. Both are the hardest working people I know, and both will give anyone the shirt off their back.

This past weekend, we celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. It really brought me joy to be able to give them a celebration for their marriage, to create a bit of a wedding reception that they’ve never had before. I loved looking through photos of their life and it made me wish that I could have been there every step of the way. If I had every day with them, it would never be enough. They’ve been my teachers, my champions, my friends. 

This weekend made me reflect a lot on how important they’ve been in my life, and now that I’m facing the idea that we are in the twilight years, I’ve had a hard time reconciling to the fact that they will not, indeed, live forever. They’ve been my earthly rock. In the midst of all the decorating and prepping, grandpa wasn’t feeling well. We tried to get him to go to the emergency room both Friday and Saturday, but he didn’t want to interfere with our plans. He refused to sully a moment that we were creating, even though our priority is always him and grandma.

Lo and behold, when he went to the doctor this morning, he was immediately admitted to the hospital. I’m glad he’s in good care, and I know that there’s nothing we can do but wait so we can get testing done to determine exactly what’s happening, but it’s killing me to be so far away and to not be able to be sitting there.

I don’t want to give a bunch of details, but if you are the praying type, say a prayer for him. Pray that the doctors can pinpoint what’s wrong and that he will get full healing. I’m not sure writing this post did anything to release my emotions and fears, but perhaps it’s a start. I hope it is.

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I’ve been thinking a lot of late about things that bring me joy, or at least used to bring me joy. I’ve realized that I haven’t done those things in a long time. I used to read a lot. I loved to write. I loved a well-turned phrase. I used to sing. I used to paint, craft, and sew. I read my bible more. I journaled. I enjoyed how I felt after I exercised. I love to cook and create new recipes.

Why have I walked away from so many of these things? It’s not that I don’t enjoy them, or that I don’t do any of them anymore, but the amount and frequency of them have diminished considerably over the years. I’m struggling in areas that I used to breeze through, and I know it’s because I haven’t exercised those muscles, both mentally and physically. Part of this has been the fact that I’m back to square one in my child-rearing. Having an infant shuts those things down in many ways, and that’s okay. It’s life’s way of protecting that baby until he/she is old enough to exercise some independence. I know that parts of me will be back in the next several months. I also know, though, that I’ve allowed parts of me to die off. I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know so many amazing people over the last few years, but instead of allowing my own gifts to have their own place, I’ve felt like I didn’t have any space at the table. Writing? Oh no, I have friends who are “real” writers. Art? I just “doodle.” Singing? There are so many women who do that as well, why should I sing out loud? There are “real” singers out there. Reading? There are women who read like they are breathing. They are editors and authors. Even my biblical education seems trite and small. I’m a good homemaker, but there are women who have been doing this longer and I feel like I can’t offer what I can do when they are in the same space.

Part of this stems from my own lack of confidence. This is something I think I’ll always struggle with. But another part of this is a result of social media and pressure to take on every mantle that comes along. I’m always hearing about goals and words and causes that are so wonderful, and there’s nothing wrong with them. The problem is, however, that I allow it to make me feel less than. Sometimes, I just want to live the life I have been given. I can’t live my life feeling big feelings every single day. It’s not the way I was built.

This year, I’m giving up social media for Lent. Facebook, twitter, and instagram. I spend so much time watching the lives of others during any free time I have from parenting. Instead, I want to read books. Real books. And I don’t want to have to put it on Goodreads so everyone else knows I’m reading. I want to write and not feel the pressure to share my blog posts in order to gain views. I want to do art and not feel like I have to put it on instagram so people know I did something creative that day.

I don’t think there’s a single thing wrong with people who love these things. Heck, I have loved these things! When I told my husband what I was planning to do, he laughed and scoffed because he knows how much time I spend connecting online. I also know that, for me, it has reached an unhealthy level, and I want to spend more time in real life with people. I want to spend time in real life having coffee with my new friend Jess. I want to go for walks in the sun. I want to spend more time in the library.

I hope to be able to write more in here during this time, although it will be funny because I won’t be sharing it on my social media channels, but I’m looking forward to writing for myself and not for an intended audience.

I just want to find me again. Does anyone relate?

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