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My last few speaking engagements…

…before Tiny #4 arrives are right here, folks.

I’ve decided to take an indefinite amount of time off from travel and speaking engagements starting in December. The way we like to parent our babies – particularly in the early days – doesn’t really work for a travelling mum. It’s only in the last few months that I’ve felt comfortable leaving even the tinies for a day or two here and there. (Well, I suppose I could get up on stage with a tiny babe in a Moby wrap but we’ll see before making any promises, eh?)

So I’ve got my last few events coming up over these next few weeks and I wanted to let you know about them in case you could pop by and say hello. I’d love to see you at any of these events if you can swing it.

praxis

September 19 (Friday): Edina, Minnesota

Yep, this coming Friday night! I’ll be at the Women Who Inspire event at Christ Presbyterian Church. The event information is here if you’d like to join us.

October 3 and 4th (Friday and Saturday): Winnipeg, Manitoba

I’m excited to be with YWAM Urban Ministries sponsored by their Peace & Justice Internships for a weekend of workshops based on Jesus Feminist. The lectures will take place on the 7:15pm on Friday, October 3rd and all day Saturday, October 4th (9am-4:30pm). All the info is right here.

October 24 and 25 (Friday and Saturday): Bloomington, Indiana

So looking forward to this one – I’ll be participating in the Fringe Christianity conversation at First Presbyterian.We’ll be talking about evangelism, gender issues, vocation and identity, as well as writing and living your story as proclamation. All the info is here. 

November 16: Calgary, Alberta

I haven’t been back to my hometown in nearly 10 years so am looking forward to returning for this conversation with the North Calgary Vineyard community. There isn’t an event page or times available yet but I’ll update my Speaking page with that info when it comes available.

P.S. Thanks to @feelingismutual on Instagram for this pic from Praxis in Tulsa earlier this year. The first and quite possibly last time I’ll wear heels like that for an entire day. Ouchies.

 

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Dear Body

Dear Body,

Hello, lovely.

Isn’t it funny how it’s taken an entire lifetime to call you lovely? And to mean it? And see it? And know it? You’ve always been lovely, strong one. It took me too long to notice.

But here, now, let me just say it and then, like a prophet, let me believe it, and live into the truth of it every day: I’m thankful for you.

I’m thankful for the freckles scattered, for how they speak of my summer days at a cold prairie lake, and my redheaded dad. I’m thankful for the bend in the bridge of my small nose, bent on a bunk bed frame. I’m thankful for the grey hair stubbornly reappearing, and that very decided line to the left corner of my mouth, I’ve always started to smile a bit crooked, and now it shows, bless you. Thank you for the small scar on my wrist, from that time when it was scratched…well,  you remember that time, oh, yes, making out with that boy in high school, and then there are the chicken pox scars on my left hand. Thank you for crow’s feet born from laughter.

Thank you for the ease of my skin and the stretch marks, thank you for these too-big-for-fashion breasts, they have satisfied the ones I love best. Thank you for my arched eyebrows, I’ll give you a high-five and a good-on-ya because we’ve never had to pluck an eyebrow and that’s all on you. And thank you for this small pointed and saucy chin, and thank you for my hands, they are starting to look like Mum-hands, and I rejoice in their hard worn strength.

Thank you for my legs, for my thighs, for my heart still pumping the blood of pioneers longing for a bigger sky. And thank you for my knees, how they bend easily, at last, to Creator, and thank you for these eyes that see beauty in the strangest places, for the mother-blue of them, and thank you for the very physical and very real self of it all, thank you for helping me to worship and see and know beyond my brain and my heart, and reminding me that this, the created self is good.

These days we’re growing with new life again. You are changing all over again. And it’s different now in this season than it was the first time we did this eight years ago. That’s as it should be. I know that fashion says teeny-tiny baby bumps are “so cute” and we’ve never been “cute.” We tend to have people asking us if we’re having twins very early in pregnancy. But you know what? I dig it. I love how our muscles relax at just the news of another new baby and I love to rest my hands on my growing bump. This is a gift I didn’t know that I would ever enjoy: look at us, just a regular sort of mama, and I still think we’re beautiful.

And thank you for good hard work like birth, because otherwise, I might not have ever known how capable and strong and life-giving you are, and I look at these babies you’ve carried, and I remember the smell and heft of them on my chest, on my soft belly, the very second that they emerged from my own body, gulping air, blinking in surprise at life, and I remember how I knew that they were good, good, good, and this thing that I had done, this was good, too. And we were all restored to joy, again and again, because I couldn’t stop laughing, every time I gave birth, when it was over, I laughed and laughed in relief and wonder, like an ancient Sarah joining with God in laughter here at promises fulfilled.

I’ve learned at last to be gentle with you, Body. Gentle with my words, gentle with my thoughts, gentle even with my hands, but sometimes I know, I am still learning how to speak kindly about you.

I’m sure now that this is the body I have and this is the body I will have and this is the body I always had, and this is how I am going through life, with you, and we forever putting one foot in front of another, lungs filling with the glorious miracle of dust breathing.

I like you better now, I admit it, than I did when you were lithe and younger, with a concave stomach of a pop star. In those days, I only saw your imperfections and I hid you, ashamed of my very physical self, very real, undignified self. Now, I laugh, an understanding and tender sort of chuckle. I wish I had worn more bikinis in those days, sure, but now I wear my bathing suit at the pool, in front of God and everybody, and I get my hair wet. I put red stain on my lips and a tight-shirts over my growing belly. I’m quick to kiss, to turn over and say yes in the night.

So here, let’s settle on down slowly let’s be young and strong a bit longer, let’s run, let’s walk, let’s breathe a bit longer. Then let’s grow old peacefully together. Let the heft of the baby on your hip be enough, let the moment of holding a sleepy sun-drained babe with tired eyes to your breast, the moment when you are feeding her body and soul, be enough. Let your hands lightly scratch the backs of your tinies until they arch into you like small cats purring with delight. I’ll show these girls how to love their own bodies by loving you.

Undress with the lights on and send saucy glances over your left shoulder at the man you taught how to unhook a bra. Put lotion on your thighs and bless them, eat food that makes you roll your eyes back in your head with a groan of delight, hug, touch, wonder at your own muscles and sinews, welcome the tears, let them fall the way that they have needed to fall, and laugh laugh laugh, now we know, you taught me, didn’t you?

A big and wild love is the most gorgeous thing we could ever put on.

Love and gratitude,

S.

 

This post was part of an inspired SheLoves Magazine synchroblog. Write your own love letter to your own body and then link it up. It would do you good. Edited from the archives.

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I eat like a fourteen-year-old and other ways I haven’t quite grown up yet

My tinies are with the babysitter for a few hours today so that I can do a bit of work. And so for lunch I am chowing down on a gigantic bowl of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

Oh, unnaturally vivid orange “cheese” and noodles – I just can’t quit you.

I make good choices when it comes to eating overall, I promise. I take vitamins and drink water beautifully, I ensure a balanced plate is at every meal for the family. I love vegetables and healthy food, too.

But as the special treat? my indulgences are the food of a fourteen-year-old and I’m not even sorry.

This girl probably had a Slurpee for lunch.

Me, at 13. I probably had a Slurpee for lunch that day.

My favourite food is still cheese pizza. I adore a quick stop at 7-11 for a Pepsi Slurpee on a summer Friday.

On the (very) rare occasion when I’m home alone, I eat popcorn for supper. Toaster waffles from the freezer section, pizza pops, Cheezies, oh, it’s like illegal contraband and it’s even tastier because it’s so wrong. In fact, when I was pregnant with my son, my one and only craving was Froot Loops. Mmmmmm, Froot Loops.

Let’s not even talk about junk-food cereal. I’m looking at you, Cap’n Crunch.

In fact, I have been known to exercise my adult driving privileges just to drive two hours south to the United States just to go to the fast-food joint Sonic for a slush and tater tots.

Maybe I’m not a foodie with perfectly plated meals of quinoa and lobster for Instagram, but I’m so happy with my root beer floats and Corn Pops.

In the important ways, I’ve proven myself a Certified Proper Grown-Up. Small indulgences are sweet for that very reason perhaps….. like…..

I love to wear pajama pants. Like, it’s probably alarming how much I love pajamas. If it was socially acceptable, I’d wear them all the time. Instead, I settle for “getting ready for bed” immediately after supper.

I need a ridiculous amount of sleep, but I’m like a toddler. Early to bed and early to rise. Don’t ever call me after 8:30 at night, I might be sleeping.

I refuse to wear uncomfortable shoes unless absolutely necessary. (And you’d be surprised how few things in life REQUIRE high heels.) Every once in a long while, I’ll put on heels for a speaking engagement and I always bitterly regret it.

I love to watch musicals and kid movies that make me feel good. I’ve watched Anne of Green Gables twice a year every year since 1985. Last night, we watched The Sound of Music. This weekend, we have a date with Annie. (Miss Hannigan would be the greatest costume for a fancy-dress party ever in the history of the world, am I right?)

When I have stuff to do – like, say, writing a book – I avoid my work and spend my time reading novels or checking Buzzfeed instead.

I still love old paperback novels for my comfort reading particularly L.M. Montgomery novels. Particular favourites for a re-read include A Tangled Web, The Blue Castle, Jane of Lantern Hill, the Emily books, and of course the Anne books. I never grow out of them.

I love to read aloud with my kids and am still captivated by kid books – Ramona, Little House, Matilda (we just started this one after Anne’s birthday and it is so funny), they’re all still good. I can’t wait for the day when we dip back into A Wrinkle in Time. Madeleine L’Engle was right: “You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” 

I can waste time like it’s my job. Give me a bit of wilderness for wandering and I can keep myself busy for a ridiculous amount of time.

If I have a bit of spending money, I’ll spend it on ridiculous things like books and junk food.

I’m a very good grown-up. I work hard and well, I raise my tinies well, I do all the lovely grown up things like pay bills and save for retirement and clean the house and keep little teeth brushed. So it’s just plain lovely to luxuriate in a few childish things now and then, isn’t it?

For a bit of fun this Friday, tell me what are your childish indulgences?

I know, I know, you’re a responsible adult but what are the kid things you still love to watch or read or do – or, like me, eat?

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In which we put down the gloves and jump on in :: a guest post by Jerusalem Jackson Greer

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.

What does authentic community among women look like to you? Have you ever seen it done right in the church?

Weigh in with your response to the day’s question in the comments! One response will win a free signed copy of the little yellow book.

Today, Jerusalem Jackson Greer is responding to our question. 

image source

“Spiritual experiences aren’t meant to be homogeneous, only harmonious – not in unison, but in unity.” – Sue Monk Kidd, When the Heart Waits

To all the women reading, who are followers of Christ, I have a favor to ask.

Please, my sisters-in-Christ, do not join the church ladies in your community for the following reasons:

  • For the programs
  • To be with like-minded women
  • To fit in
  • For the T-shirt

If you do, I can promise that at some point you will be disappointed, disillusioned, and feel disjointed.

I beg of you instead to join the Church Ladies in your community if:

  • You want to follow Jesus
  • You want to be known by your love
  • You want to love your neighbor
  • You want to be last

Here is what I am asking:

Can we suspend our well-oiled cynicism about Women’s Ministry?

Can we push aside our need for slick, or relevant, or programs?

Can we let go – at least for a season – our assumptions about which women can speak into our lives based on the size of their hair, the style of their shoes, the choice of their bumper stickers, or their music preferences?

Can we learn to live out those lovely movie lines “I like you… Just as you are.” towards one another?

***

I hate to hike. I absolutely hate it. But my friend Alison loves it and now she has gone off and moved to Scotland. And I really wish that I had gone on a hike with her somewhere when she lived nearby. I wish I had let her teach me all about hiking. About why she loves it so.  About what it has taught her.

I don’t think it would make me like hiking, but it would have helped me understand Alison. And it would have been a way to love her.

I, on the other hand, really like to craft. And every time someone makes a joke about crafting at women’s church events, I cringe because I actually enjoy it.

But some of my very best friends really don’t like it all. Yet every now and then they will step out of their comfort zone and craft with me. Because they know it is part of who I am, that it is important to me, and that it means a lot to me when they take the time to enter into that part of my heart with me.

Sometimes I need to be with people in the exact stage of life as me because we can commiserate and I feel less alone in my questions and hurdles. It feels good to laugh and cry with someone who knows exactly what I am going through because they are right there in the mud and the muck with me.

But sometimes what I need is to be with someone who has traveled further down the road than me.

I need to sit in the presence of blue-haired ladies who have made it well past the twenty-year mark in their marriages. I need to listen to the wisdom of women who have looked in the mirror at the age of 39 and wondered if the good stuff was over or just beginning.

And sometimes what someone else needs – someone newly married, someone with toddlers as opposed to teenagers – what she needs is someone like me. Someone who is a little further ahead, but still within shouting distance.

Dear sisters, I know there are culture wars raging something fierce right now.  Many of you are lost at sea amidst storms within your denominations or expression of faith.  Many of you are homeless; you have been wandering the desert of church home options for years. But if you can find a little group of Church Ladies somewhere in your community – at your church or your neighbor’s church or your mother’s church or that church on the corner – if you can find a group of sisters to join, please do.

And as you walk through the doors, please be curious, not judgmental. Please enter with eyes, ears, and hearts wide open. Please check any tendencies to mock, to lead with cynicism, to quarantine yourself in the corner, at the door. Enter not just to receive, but to give. Not just to speak, but to listen.

You and I need to try things that are outside our comfort zone without feeling threatened.

Because being together should not be about us.

It should be about the other.

I need to go on a hike and you need to craft.

I need to fill in some blanks on a worksheet and you need to take a yoga class.

I need to take each and every opportunity to see what life looks like from another’s vantage point, instead of shrugging things off as “not me.”

And we all need to love out Christ’s commandment:

“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (John 13: 34-35 The MSG)

And maybe a good place to start is with the Church Ladies.

Jerusalem Greer Jerusalem Jackson Greer is a writer, speaker, occastional preacher-lady, nest-fluffer, urban farm-gal, and author of A Homemade Year: The Blessings of Cooking, Crafting and Coming Together. Jerusalem lives with her husband and two sons in a 1940s cottage in Arkansas at the crossroads of beauty and mess with an ever-changing rotation of pets, including a hen house full of chickens. As a family, they are attempting to live a slower version of modern life.  She blogs about all of this and more at http://jerusalemgreer.com 

 

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