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In which I am carrying on their legacies :: a guest post by Dusty Counts

I received this beautiful letter from a woman in North Carolina named Dusty Counts. (Isn’t her name amazing?! I love the South.) After reading it, I asked her if I could share it here on my blog as a guest post because I love her legacy and I love how consciously she walks out that legacy in her life right now. Eshet chayil! 

Do you have a family story? Have you heard it all your life? This was my situation when I read Jesus Feminist. Somehow, reading that book made two of my family stories come to life.

My grandmother was 8 years old (can you imagine?) when she had to quit school. She was in the 3rd grade. Her mother had broken her hip, so my grandmother had to stay home, both to take care of the younger children as well as run the household. Did I mention she was 8 years old? Cooking was done on a wood stove, which my grandmother chopped the wood for. She also killed chickens. And she was never able to return to school.

But my grandmother decided life would be different for her four daughters, who all finished high school. This was unheard of in rural North Carolina during those times. My grandmother then cashed in some small life insurance policies to send her daughters to business colleges. All four of them then proceeded to graduate from business college!

She always, always, did for others. My mother told me she could never remember a meal (when she was a child) where my grandmother didn’t also fix a plate to send to someone in need. She did this, despite the fact there was little to send. These were far from wealthy people.

My grandmother also demanded that the first indoor bathroom in the community be installed in her house. There is a famous family story about her wanting a renovation to the house. My grandfather wasn’t quick enough in starting the project, so my grandmother took a sledgehammer and beat through the wall one day while he was at work. The renovation was completed.

My mother was a quiet person. She would never talk about her faith. But she prayed every night, for what seemed like hours to me. At her funeral, I learned there was more than one person that my mother had quietly provided toys and food for at Christmastime. She was such a person of faithful prayer.

At my church, Renovatus, we say: “We are your grandmother’s church and your great-grandmother’s church and your great-great-grandmother’s church.” I always think of my mom and grandmother when I see this.

These are their stories. I feel such a deep connection to these ladies who are now gone from my life. They were truly Jesus Feminists.

Thank you for making their stories alive again to me. You have given me a priceless gift.

I have been thinking about how I carry on their legacies. Am I doing that in any way?

I have a community life group that meets in my home every Monday night. We do a meal each week. Although my husband does the cooking, I like to think that this is carrying on the ministry of my grandmother.

And, I am on the prayer team at my church. We meet every Thursday night to pray for the ministries and members of our community. I like to think this is carrying on the ministry of my mother.

And, I have just become one of the first two women elders at Renovatus. There is an old saying in the south, “The apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree.” This means we are more like our parents than we realize. I believe the spirit of my mom and grandmother are living on. That spirit is a part of me.

Love,

Dusty Counts (isn’t my name awesome? An adjective and a verb!)

dusty countsDusty Swink Counts hangs out in Charlotte, NC where she has spent 35 years climbing down the corporate ladder arriving happily at the bottom. From an IT professional to a stay at home mom who homeschooled to retail to preschool teacher to food service worker, it’s been quite a ride. She has been married to Jim for 30 years and mom to Dustin, 27; Ian, 26; Greylan, 23 and Christine, 22. This motley crew includes a financial advisor, a barber, an arborist/dancer and a Geology/Secondary Education major dance minor. When not asking, “Would you like to large size that meal?” Dusty enjoys reading, visiting with her children and awesome daughter-in-law and having coffee with friends. She has recently been ordained an elder at Renovatus, a church for liars, dreamers and misfits where she fits right in!

 

Continue Reading · Guest Post, Jesus Feminist · 15

In which we have another video for you :: Lean Into the Pain

One of the phrases I often write through or return to in my work is to “lean into the pain” and this is a 5 minute video from Travis Reed of The Work of the People on where it came from.

Talking about things like this is a bit hard for me – I’m not a verbal processor and to think “on my feet” like this is a bit of a stretch.  I’m more comfortable as a writer obviously. And so I’ll also share an excerpt from my book about this very thing:

Lean into the pain.

Stay there in the questions, in the doubts, in the wonderings and loneliness, the tension of living in the Now and the Not Yet of the Kingdom of God, your wounds and hurts and aches, until you are satisfied that Abba is there, too. You will not find your answers by ignoring the cry of your heart or by living a life of intellectual and spiritual dishonesty. Your fear will try to hold you back, your tension will increase, the pain will become intense, and it will be tempting to keep clinging tight to the old life; the cycle is true. So be gentle with yourself. Be gentle when you first release. Talk to people you trust. Pray. Lean into the pain. Stay there. and the release will come. 

Hurry wounds a questioning soul.

You can also watch You are Not Forgotten and Live Loved.

 

Continue Reading · faith, giving birth, Jesus Feminist, journey · 18

In which we’re telling a new narrative about gender roles and racial reconciliation :: a guest post by Osheta Moore

book club

I have asked a few of my favourite writers/bloggers to respond to the Jesus Feminist discussion questions. The discussion questions are meant for small group discussions or journalling but I wanted to make a bit of room on the blog for each of us to respond to them, too.

(Okay, so really I wanted an excuse to give away books, encourage people to work through the discussion questions, and also introduce my readers to some exciting new-to-you voices!)

From Chapter 5:

How do you interpret the Bible’s call for mutual submission in marriage? Could you walk out the dance of “none but Jesus” in your home?

Weigh in with your response to the day’s question in the comments.

One commenter’s response will win a free signed copy of the little yellow book. (This is our final instalment in the series and tomorrow afternoon, I’ll announce the winners of the signed books.)

Today, Osheta Moore of Shalom in the City is responding to our question.

 

****

I knew I would marry a white boy even before my Mama told me so.

Maybe it was my wall covered with pictures of Jonathan Knight, the shy, sweet older brother of New Kids on the Block that tipped her off. I did have a small picture of Boyz II Men next to my desk to balance out the overwhelming white boy love fest, but since it shared a page with a New Kid’s interview—it didn’t really count.

It was quite possibly the many stories of my school day that included me gazing at, daydreaming about, or nervously working next my middle school crush, the popular pre-teen Adonis with blonde hair and blue eyes. I think I showed her my cards when I asked my mom while reading “Little Women” if Laurie would have fallen in love with me even though I was a black little woman.

I think she suspected it was time to liberate the white boy lover in me when I tried to convince her I found black boys cute with an insincere off hand comment. “Mama, you know, Steve Urkel is kinda cute when he’s Stefan Urquelle,” I commented as Jaleel White seamlessly switched from America’s favorite nerdy next-door neighbor to his sleek, intelligent and charming altar ego after drinking “Cool Juice.”

“Oh, Honey!” my mama said. “You’re gonna marry a white boy!”

Shocked and a little embarrassed I laughed, “What makes you say that?”

Searching the bowl for the coveted slightly popped kernels we called, “crunchies,” she looked up and simply replied, “Because that’s all you look at.”

From that day on, I never felt bad about only dating white boys. It wasn’t a conscious decision as much as a comfortable preference. The same way I only wear flip-flops in the summer or cotton scarfs over silk. I knew what I liked and confidently moved towards that.

In all my years of dating white men and praying about the intricacies of having bi-racial children, I overlooked one problematical reality of marriage: someday as a “biblical Christian woman” I’d have to submit to one, even if it’s mutual.

I, a black woman, would have to bend my will to a white man.

The baggage of racism had not been unpacked in my interracial marriage. When I married my husband, my post-racism, “we’re past white and black issues” worldview, convinced me that the little twinge in my heart towards submission was caused by pride or worldliness.

I did not know Jesus was inviting me to the well to drink deep the everlasting water of racial healing. I was willfully ignorant of race issues and colorblind to a fault.

Then God called us to urban ministry and the more I learned of poverty, systemic injustice, and violence in the urban core, the more I realized in order to embrace the African-American community, I needed to embrace our shared past of suffering. Gone were the days of running from the truth that I am a black woman in America. As a black child of God, I had to process my pain around race or else he could not work deep magic in the broken places.

After all he gave me this skin, it was time I learned how to wear it proudly.

Those months of learning to love my identity as a black woman and attempting to play the role of submissive wife were hard. It seemed every African-American heroine’s story began with overcoming the odds of white male oppression. From Harriet Tubman to my favorite Disney Princess, Tiana, I saw white men creating some sort of unnecessary obstacle.

How could I submit to this white man whose very skin makes me feel “less than?”

The how and why of submission became very important for moving forward. Do I submit passively, without gently asking questions or respectfully sharing my insights? Do I submit to avoid conflict even though I know the fall out from bad decisions would be more raucous than a few minutes of heated debate between lovers? Do I submit because I’m a woman and the church says we should remain silent? What if God wants to use my voice to speak clarity in an important family matter? Do I submit then? Do I submit because I know there are so many stereotypes of the “angry black woman” and a part of me wants to de-bunk that?

See, see, us black woman can be gentle and quiet.

I think that’s why my feelings about submission and racial identity were unnecessarily enmeshed.

The uncertainty of it all put me in a place of submitting out of fear. I submitted to be a peacekeeper, not a peacemaker. 

When I separated the two, God could heal the wounds caused by racism while teaching me that shalom in my marriage doesn’t come from a bending of my will to my husband but from a bowing of my head in prayer to my Savior.

When we’re at an impasse, I don’t have to blindly submit “because the bible tells me so” or because I have this sycophantic impulse as a black woman to please all white people— especially white men.

After I separated the two and let Jesus work on my baggage around race, I started to see my husband as more my partner and less patriarchal. If we don’t agree, an issue can remain unresolved while we can learn to dance through frustration, not around it. It looks messy, at times chaotic, and too often we step on each other toes, but it also looks like dignity, honor, forgiveness, and hope.

As a “Naked Anabaptist.” my reading of the Bible is Jesus-centered. Therefore, my view of submission has to reflect a “None but Jesus” hermeneutic. I submit first and foremost to Jesus. So does my husband. We’re disciples who yearn for the harmony of Heaven on earth, we let Jesus’ teaching inform us on how to speak peace in conflict and create wholeness in our marriage. We try to live out a cruciform—Cross-shape—love for one another by smothering the jolt of life we get from being “right” in order stand right next to each other.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19

In my interracial marriage, as we practice submission, we’re telling a new narrative about gender roles and racial reconciliation. I’m glad I married a white boy even if being his black wife challenges me in all the best ways every single day.

 

osheta biopic-1Osheta Moore, an Anabaptist stay-at-home mom in Boston. She has four babies: two boys (Tyson and TJ), one girl (Trinity) and a church plant (New City Covenant Church). She’s passionate about racial reconciliation, peacemaking and community development in the urban core. She writes on her blog, “Shalom in the City,” and at the top of her bucket list is “dance in a flash mob” — all the better if it’s to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” or Pharrell’s “Happy.”

 

Continue Reading · Guest Post, Jesus Feminist · 29

In which I’ll do the dishes :: a guest post by Zach Hoag

book club

I have asked a few of my favourite writers/bloggers to respond to the Jesus Feminist discussion questions. The discussion questions are meant for small group discussions or journalling but I wanted to make a bit of room on the blog for each of us to respond to them, too.

(Okay, so really I wanted an excuse to give away books, encourage people to work through the discussion questions, and also introduce my readers to some exciting new-to-you voices!)

From Chapter 3: Tangled Roots

Think about how gender differences were framed for you as a child or as a new believer. What stands out to you looking back? What do you understand as truth today?

Weigh in with your response to the day’s question in the comments.

One commenter’s response will win a free signed copy of the little yellow book.

Today, Zach Hoag of The Nuance is responding to our question.

 

Dad never did the dishes.

Not once.

He never cooked a meal, either. Or balanced a checkbook. Or cleaned the bathroom.

And even though there were never discussions about “complementarianism” in our third-wave, charismatic Christian home, there was a functional expectation of fixed gender roles. Dad fancied himself an apostle-Paul type, determining that chores were “not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables” (Acts 6:2). Never mind that the verse was ripped out of the context of equipping qualified leaders to serve the widows in the community – the Spirit-led application was that he would study the Word and lead the family while Mom did everything else.

As I began to grab hold of my own faith in my late teens, I was swept off my feet by Reformed theology. Where the fast and loose Pentecostalism of my parents had essentially led our ministry family to ruin, the Reformation seemed to offer stability. Ironically, the gender roles pushed by newfound heroes like John Piper were not too dissimilar from those lived out by my tongue-talking folks. As a result, I became all the more convinced of my biblically-mandated responsibility to exercise authority over my future wife. I would not serve tables. I would get in the Word, run things, and make decisions. And she would do the rest.

During my first year of marriage, both my Reformed theology and my rigid gender roles began quickly crumbling. I did not marry a woman without a will, sans a personality. And I loved her too much to mimic the domineering behavior I saw demonstrated in the Reformed Baptist church we attended. I also loved her too much to see her forced into the mold that so many women in our church had submitted to. Even as my own immature theologized machismo was being confronted at every turn by the real, strong, passionate person I was living with, an entire theological system I had bought into was losing its structural integrity.

And finally, it fell.

The end result is a marriage that has become fully and completely equal and mutual in a way that neither my childhood nor my Calvinistic cage phase could have prepared me for. Our roles as husband and wife are anything but fixed. Instead, they are fluid.

It is not my place to have my way, do my thing (even if it’s my Jesus thing), and expect my wife to do the rest. No, it’s my place to serve. And to contribute. And collaborate. And lead. And submit to my wife’s leadership. 50/50, all the way.

I’m a Jesus Feminist because I now believe it is my place to serve tables. And clean the bathroom. And balance the checkbook. And change the diapers. And get the four-year-old ready for bed.

And even though I’m a pretty worthless cook, it’s the least I can do to submit to my spouse, roll up my sleeves, and do the dishes every once and awhile - you know, out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21).

 

zachZach J. Hoag is a church planter and missional minister from the least religious city in the least religious state in the U.S. – Burlington, Vermont. He wrote a book called Nothing but the Blood: The Gospel According to Dexter, and he blogs at The Nuance on Patheos. Most importantly, he binge-watches cable TV dramas and plays in the snow with his family.

Continue Reading · faith, family, Guest Post, Jesus Feminist · 46