You got me from A to B—
a flash of turquoise that people around town recognized as me,
drawing friendly honks, waves, and the occasional gossip when spotted at the liquor store or the Catholic Church.
You did not lend yourself to anonymity,
“A 1994 Plymouth Acclaim,” I explained to a group of writing students who walked me through the parking lot after a lecture once. They took one look at your rusty hood and peeled paint and promptly changed their major.
They didn’t have the guts—
these kids who were younger than you and I,
these kids who were just babies when I inherited you from my father as something of a graduation present.
My father called you the Easter egg car.
My mother called you the girly car.
My sister called you the Turquoise Wonder.
That last one stuck.
Sure, I apologized sometimes for your quirks— mostly for the way your automatic seatbelts sprang to life whenever the doors opened, catching people by surprise, messing up their hair, and occasionally holding them hostage in the passenger seat—
But we took care of each other, you and I:
Dan ensured your oil was always changed.
We replaced your transmission.
We put in a CD player so you could play something other than the Ace of Bace cassette tape that got stuck in your teeth sometime in the late 90s,
and so that summer after summer,
I could sing Alanis and Adele at the top of my lungs,
fireflies hitting your face.
No one has ever heard me sing like you’ve heard me sing.
In turn, you let me cry into your steering wheel and junk you up with candy wrappers and pens.
You took me safely to my first job at a daily newspaper,
to interviews on city streets and pig farms,
to the hairdresser on my wedding day,
to my first meeting with a publisher,
to my parents' house to cry after I was rejected by that publisher,
to my first book signing,
to Jersey and West Virginia and Nashville and Florida on road trip after road trip,
and safely to my driveway just seconds before your timing belt finally went out.
“That could have been bad if it had happened out on the road,” Dan said after peering under the hood. “That was a close one.”
You got me from A to B.
I’d like to think we did it because we didn’t want to press our luck anymore,
because repairs cost more than the Blue Book said you were worth,
because you didn’t have anti-lock brakes or passenger-side airbags,
because we really couldn’t have you breaking down on a late-night drive home from the airport or on a busy interstate,
because of fuel economy and our deepening concern over climate change.
But I think a small part of it was pride.
A successful author shouldn’t have the ugliest car at Wal Mart.
A successful author shouldn’t get stuck in a parking lot because her turn radius stinks.
A successful author shouldn’t scare off budding talent with rust stains and old tires.
So on the last day of the year we took advantage of one of those big sales and got a new car.
“A 2012 Honda Civic,” I can now tell the students, who will not care because, as lovely and reliable as it is, there is nothing poetic or endearing or quirky about a 2012 Honda Civic.
They won’t stifle giggles or take in breath.
They won’t get their free reality check.
They won’t think twice about their majors anymore.
No, they’ll just press on without counting the cost,
Never knowing that sometimes you gotta chase down your dreams in a car that’s older than the dreams themselves.
You got me from A to B—
and then some.
A flash of turquoise,
a confessional in motion,
Update: Congratulations to Gayla Gower, Alana, and Alex - winners of a free copy of "Red Letter Christians" by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo...compliments of Thomas Nelson.
1. Election Day Communion
This is a brilliant idea that encourages churches across the country to hold communion services on the evening of November 6 so that Christians of all political affiliations and denominations can “share this sacred act of communion together, reaffirming our allegiance to Christ.” The purpose is to bring people together on a day that often divides. Already, 265 congregations, schools, and groups in 44 states have pledged to participate. Looks like a group in Chattanooga will be holding one. Hope Dan and I can make it. Be sure to check out the Web site for more information.
2. Malala – A Young Woman of Valor
Malala Yousufzai is a 14-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by members of the Taliban this week for her outspoken advocacy for the rights of girls in her country to go to school. She blogged for the BBC about education and won the National Peace Award in Paskistan last year.
As many have noted, this happened just before the first annual International Day of the Girl, meant to highlight gender inequity around the world—particularly as it concerns lack of education, child brides, and slavery. You can learn more about that, including how you can help, here.
3. The Crowd, The Critic, and the Muse by Michael Gungor
I just finished this one and really enjoyed it. Beautifully and honestly written, The Crowd, the Critic, and the Muse explores some of the toughest questions confronting artists these days, particularly in our increasingly loud and cluttered creative culture. I read it while trudging through my own creative desert and it proved to be just the oasis I needed. Michael Gungor writes with humor, insight, wisdom, and grace. This is one of the only books on creativity I’ve read that speaks directly into some of the things I struggle with as a writer whose work is digested…and criticized…primarily online. You can get it here.
4. Haiti Bloggers
Help One Now Haiti has a pretty amazing team of bloggers reporting from Haiti this week, including Sarah Bessey, Jen Hatmaker, Mary DeMuth, Kristen Howerton, and Dierdra Riggs. (You can find them on Twitter with #Help1Haiti.) Some great posts coming out of the trip this week include Sarah’s “In which God doesn’t look the same anymore,” Mary’s “5 Myths About Haiti,” and Kristen’s “Standing Firm and Looking Forward.”
5. Launch Team update
We had more than 300 people apply to be part of the launch team for A Year of Biblical Womanhood, and because I absolutely hate not including everyone—especially when just about everyone had amazing ideas and meaningful words of encouragement—I’ve left the selection process to my team at Thomas Nelson. They’ve got their work cut out for them, let me tell you. Expect to hear in the next couple of days if you’ve been chosen. (Ugh! This feels like Calvinism!) Thank you all so much for your ideas and enthusiasm. Brought me to grateful tears!
6. Red Letter Revolution by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo
Red Letter Revolution by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo released this week and is a delightful read. Presented in a conversational format, in which Shane and Tony essentially talk through what it means to be “red letter Christians,” touching on everything from violence, to community, to Islam, to sexuality, to liturgy, to saints, the book is highly practical and, as always, incredibly challenging. This is a great book to start with if you’re new to the “red letter” movement, and I’m happy to report that Thomas Nelson has provided 3 copies for me to give away today! So, if you’re interested, leave a comment indicating that you would like a copy of Red Letter Revolution by midnight (EST) tonight. I’ll randomly select three winners from the comment section (using random.org).
So, what should I know about? What else is happening in the world?
1. “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. “ (Bull s$*t. Every item on your pumpkin-based desserts board tastes better than skinny feels.)
2. What the world really needs is more elaborate nail art.
3. A bedroom/indoor pool combo makes sense for people other than Hugh Hefner.
4. Every woman has time to make a festive fall wreath out of coffee filters, a lamp shade out of old photo slides, and a trendy scarf out of a ripped up t-shirt.
5. The word “tutorial” is nothing to be afraid of.
6. Nothing will delight your wedding guests more than a photo booth + mustaches-on-sticks. (Truth: An open bar will delight your wedding guests more than a photo booth + mustaches-on-sticks.)
7. Those heels are too pretty to hurt.
8. Your pet/toddler will LOVE the ironic, topical Halloween costume you made them.9. Copyright laws don’t apply; it’s the internet!
10. You’ll only be a few minutes...
What would you add to the list?
Well, today marks our 1,000th post! If we were all gathered together in a room, I’d be pouring each of you a glass of champagne to celebrate.
...Actually I wouldn’t. That would be super-expensive. This is better.
When I look back on nearly four years of blogging, the posts that mattered the most to me are the ones that were collaborative, the ones we created together. And so in that spirit, here are ten cool things we’ve done together in 1,000 posts:
10. We rallied to restore unity.
Last year, around the time Jon Stewart held his Rally to Restore Sanity, John Piper “farwelled” Rob Bell, and Stephen Colbert hosted his Rally to Keep Fear Alive, we hosted our own response to the increasing theological and political polarization online: The Rally to Restore Unity. You guys made hundreds of signs for our photo collages and wrote hundreds of blog posts for our synchroblog. The results were laugh-out-loud funny, touching, challenging, and bizarre...just what the internet needed at the time. See the Rally Round-Up here.
9. We raised over $5,000 for Charity:Water.
As a result of the Rally to Restore Unity and a fundraiser for my 30th birthday, together we raised more than $5,000 to benefit Charity:Water. This was enough to fund two major water projects in Ethiopia and Sierra Leone. According to the latest update from Charity:Water, our contributions have been invested with Relief Society of Tigray (REST) and International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Ethiopia and Concern Worldwide in Sierra Leone. The funds will be used to build and rehabilitate freshwater wells and spring protections for people in need and will help provide information about safe hygiene practices and forming local Water Committees to look after the projects when they're finished. According to Charity:Water, we will receive a complete report - including GPS coordinates, photos, and stories - of the finished water projects before the end of the year! I can’t wait to share that with you.
8. We honored women of valor.
We have honored these women of valor and will continue to honor them in what has become one of my favorite series on the blog. Eshet chayil—woman of valor— has long been a blessing of praise in the Jewish community. Husbands often sing the line from Proverbs 31 to their wives at Sabbath meals. Women cheer one another on through accomplishments in homemaking, career, education, parenting, and justice by shouting a hearty “eshet chayil!” after each milestone. Great women of the faith, like Sarah and Ruth and Deborah, are identified as women of valor. One of my goals after completing my year of biblical womanhood was to “take back” Proverbs 31 as a blessing, not a to-do list, by identifying and celebrating women of valor. To help me in this, you submitted nearly 100 essays to our Women of Valor essay contest. There were so many essays that made me laugh, cry, and think I decided that, in addition to the eight winners of the contest, we would feature more of your essays in a Women of Valor series on Saturdays that will carry us through the end of the year.
Best of all, the original series helped promote the great work of Hill Country Hill Tribers, a non-profit helping Burmese refugee women in Austin earn supplemental income and learn marketable skills.
7. We made a few posts go “viral.”
6. We shared the platform with other voices.
I believe that once you build a platform, you have a responsibility to share it, and we’ve been blessed with some of the most amazing guest posts over the years. I especially appreciate those posts that challenge me to see the world, and the Church, from a new perspective. Some recent contributions to this conversation include Grace Biskie’s plea to engage in racial reconciliation, Erin Thomas’ story of what it’s like to be a person of faith with Asperger's Syndrome, Aric Clark’s defense of the passionate Mainline, Dianna Anderson’s explanation of what feminism is not, and Registered Runaway’s heartbreaking post about what happened when his father learned he was gay. I have learned so much from our guest posters through the years and am grateful for their contributions.
5. We interviewed a whole bunch of interesting people.
Perhaps the most popular recurring series on the blog has been our “Ask a...” series. Again, this represents a collaborative effort, as the interview questions are always yours! We’ve interviewed an atheist, a nun, a gay Christian, a funeral director, a pacifist, an indigenous theologian, a Pentecostal, a Mennonite, an evolutionary creationist, an Orthodox Jew, a Mormon, and more. The resulting dialogs represent some of the most productive and civil conversations on the blogosphere.
4. We sponsored more than 20 Bolivian children through World Vision
When I traveled to Bolivia with World Vision last year to see what child sponsorship looks like on the ground, I admit I was skeptical. But armed with questions you submitted via the blog and a notebook in which I scribbled notes like a reporter, I came to see just how powerful and life-changing child sponsorship can be. As a result, the Bolivia Bloggers trip generated over 120 child sponsorships, more than 20 of which came from you. You can see all the Bolivia posts here.
3. We wrestled with tough questions of faith together.
We talked about the slippery slope, about being caught in between liberal Christianity and conservative Christianity, about Calvinism, about washing the feet of our LGBT brothers and sisters, about creation and evolution, about doubt, about “Love Wins,” about following Jesus, about how to love the Bible for what it is not what we want it to be.
I confessed my fears of motherhood (the comment section after that one is perhaps my favorite ever), my struggle to find identity in the Christian “industry,” my not-so-holy Holy Week, my mistakes, my questions, my April Fools jokes, my joys.
You listened. You debated. You asked questions. You contributed. You pushed back. You gave me permission. You left comments that I printed up and hung on my wall. There are conversations that happened on this blog that changed my perspective on life forever. I hope you can say the same.
2. We stood up for gender equality in the Church.
There are folks who don’t like the fact that we talk about this on the blog, and no doubt it has cost me some readers, but in spite of all the criticism (some of it deserved), I am incredibly proud of the way we have stood up for gender equality in the Church. This is no easy conversation to have, but it’s an important one.
I am glad that we stood up to The Gospel Coalition and Doug Wilson’s damaging language regarding women and sex. I am glad we responded to John Piper’s call for a “masculine Christianity” with a beautiful celebration of women in the Church. I have heard from many women who have told me that our boldness in these contexts has given them the courage they need to speak up in situations where their voices have been drowned out or, in some cases, silenced.
By far the most rewarding week of my blogging career was Mutuality 2012, when I did my best to make a case for gender equality in the home and Church, drawing support from Scripture, reason, tradition, and the example of Christ. With your help, I addressed Genesis 1-3, the Peter and Paul and the Greco-Roman household codes, misconeptions regarding egalitarianism, the problems of patriarchy, and those difficult passages about Ephesian women teaching and leading men. The week included a synchroblog that added many of your voices to the conversation, and the comment section that week was packed with its usual gems--from Hebrew scholars, to experts on Greco-Roman culture, to women pastors, to moms and dads who just want to make the Church a more hospitable environment for their daughters.
I printed my favorite comment from the week, (posted after MImi Haddad’s interview), on a piece of paper and hung it above my desk:
"I'm sitting at my desk reading this response after a very busy, tiring day of work. And I have tears in my eyes. To think that I, as a woman, am equal. To think that I, as a woman, am a reflection of my Creator. To think that I, as a woman, have God-given(!) gifts to serve AND to lead. And to think that God (my Creator) and Jesus (my Savior) actually care about the all of the wounds that feel so raw, that They (and even others I've encountered here) care about justice for a woman like me. I don't know how to explain this and please forgive me if it makes sense only to me: I feel like a woman whose dignity is being restored word by word by word in this beautiful series. And God Himself is restoring it. I feel myself literally sitting taller in my chair as I write these lines."
That one comment made every day of blogging prior to it totally worth it.
1. We created a safe place for “travelers” to talk.
In my very first blog post, dated December 28, 2007 and entitled “Traveling Mercies for the Consummate Ass,” I wrote this:
"Spiritual pride is always a temptation for the believer, and I sincerely hope it is avoided on this blog. No one's journey is the same. There is much to learn from one another. So instead, I would like this little spot on the Web to serve as a sort of traveler's forum, a place for exchanging adventure stories, survival tips, and those priceless hole-in-the-wall recommendations that make a journey memorable. I look forward to sharing my own ideas, and I look forward to hearing from you."
I am grateful beyond words to have travelled these 1,000 posts with you. You have made this blog what it is, and despite its faults, I think we can be proud of it.
Here’s to 1,000 more!
To celebrate, I’m giving away three advance review copies of A Year of BIblical Womanhood! To enter, leave a comment indicating about how long you’ve been reading the blog and, (if you can think of one), a link or reference to your favorite post. (You can search here.) I'll randomly choose 3 winners to receive a copy of my new book and a thank-you note. **Contest will run today only, September 24, through 11:59 p.m. EST**)
Update: Congrats to Bob Keeley, Janet, and Stephanie Crabtree - winners of the review copy of "A Year of Biblical Womanhood"! (Selected via random.org.) And thank you all for your incredibly kind comments. Brought tears to my eyes.
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