Of Bear Meat Bacon and Spring

It’s been too long since I posted, but I assume you’ve all been caught up in that little thing called Spring that so distracts and inspires us that we’re prone to ask, “Facebook…hm…what’s that again?”

Anyway, between the warm weather and the dangerous coffee levels, I’m suddenly motivated to do all the things, like start writing a new book, create my dream pinterest writing nook,

deep Spring clean my house, and bake birthday and Easter treats.  

“Um…Hello Chocolate!  And you brought your friend, Peanut Butter? Please come in!”

Speaking of treats and Easter, I’ll share a completely random story with you about our family Easter ride to my in-laws’ house.  Somehow the topic of pigs and bacon came up and my seven year old daughter lamented from the back seat that, even though she loved bacon,she wished we didn’t have to kill pigs for it.  When I asked her how she would prefer to get bacon meat, she said we could kill bears for bacon.  (I think in her head bears are slightly more sinister than the pigs she has met, and are therefore better candidates for killing off.)

My six year old son quickly chimed in, “No, You have to kill the right thing!”  (Translation: Bear meat may not be a suitable bacon substitute.)

Then the three year old, not to be left out, piped up, “Bear Meat, Ew!” (Except he said it more like, beh mee, eww!)

My ever ethically sensitive daughter capped the conversation by trying to rationalize the killing of the bear; She’d invite him to help her pick berries, and if he proved to be a lazy bum slacker, she’d employ a jaguar or panther or some other wildcat to take him out.  I’m surprised sloth is so far up there on her list of unforgivable sins, given her pitiful reaction whenever I ask her to clean at home.

Anyway, where were we?  Right, Spring and doing all the things.  I’m excited to share a couple opportunities with you if you’re feeling creative and inspired yourself!

First of all, I’m running a free Non-fiction Writer’s Workshop on Saturday, May 6th, 9:30-noon, hosted at Kainos Life Ministries in East Hampton, CT.

I’ll be working through the 101 of how to explore your unique voice and audience, as well as give simple tips to improve and share your work!  You absolutely don’t need any experience- this is just an opportunity to step out and meet others with a passion to write, and hopefully grow in confidence and direction while you’re at it!  If you’re feeling adventurous, click HERE TO REGISTER and get more details! There are also several other creative workshops to sign up for if writing isn’t your thing!

Second, I have people lined up through June, but I’m still looking for more of you to share your stories as part of my Friend-Post Fridays Blog Experiment!  Every 4th Friday I’m posting a guest blog entry written by friends and family; I believe there’s something powerful in speaking our stories, and really listening to others around us.

The sky is the limit- if you missed my first Friend-Post, you can check out what my cousin shared about his experience with PTSD, but your post can be anything from your thoughts on bear-meat-bacon to potty training, to how you adopted or what your passion in life is!  If you’re interested or even have questions, send me a message and I’d love to connect with you.

And make sure you check out next week’s Friend-Post written by my own brother, Ben!  

Finally, because I’m feeling super-ambitious, I wanted to let you know about my plan to launch an online study of my book Gray Faith over summer vacation!

For 8 weeks, I’ll be posting a weekly video on my facebook page and hope you’ll post your thoughts and interact with each other as we go!  Stay tuned for the official June launch date, and if you’re interested spread the word and grab a discounted paperback or kindle version so you’re ready to start!

That’s all for now, thanks for stopping in!  And if I you got distracted somewhere in the middle of the bear story by the Springy outdoors…I completely understand.

“Gray Faith” Third Space

I haven’t updated about the book enough- partly because I’m taking my sweet time with the final edits!  Apparently books don’t publish themselves- I’m making a mental note of that.

Still, my projected date for the book launch is actually June 23rd– just a week away!!  (But stay tuned, because that date may shift slightly.  We’re on Carrye time here.)

But I’m here to share beyond this book.  After writing for awhile and realizing that a book was miraculously unfolding, I began to wonder who this book was for- what this book was for.  Even beyond who might READ it, what purpose could this book have outside of myself?

And there’s a million and one things I could give to, right?  An organization that supports the homeless, or that raises awareness about issues like human trafficking.  Or maybe I could find a place that empowering teens and changes families.

But could I also find a place that matches the heart of my book?  Could I find a place that is open to everyone, and fosters real questions about the good, the bad, and the gray of life?

Turns out, I know a place that is and does all of the above (cue drum roll, please….)

Epoch Arts!!

epoch arts

If you’re in the East Hampton CT area, chances are you’ve at least heard of Epoch.  But for those who have never been, I’ll tell you why I want to give half my proceeds to this amazing place.

Epoch Arts is a place for children and teens to explore
their creativity through music, art, theater classes, dance and performances of all kinds. They march in a parade in our town every year and hold open-mic nights for teens.  There’s a little bit of everything!  (It also happens to host a pretty awesome homeschool group as well.)

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                My husband and daughter enjoying the annual “Daddy Daughter Dance” at Epoch

But that’s not REALLY what Epoch is.  Epoch is alive.  It’s a community that takes you in- just as you are- and says “you’re safe here”.  At the same time, it’s a place that calls you out of your comfort zone, to BE what you have the potential to be, and it challenges you to really see those around you.  That’s how the community thrives and grows.  Because one person and one person and one person, team up, create beauty, love one another even when it hurts,and breathe life and hope into the world around them through their collective creativity and passion.

Throughout the year people at Epoch find regular, everyday ways to make the world better, but every year they put on a specific “Arts Response” to issues that are relevant to our community and beyond- human trafficking, AIDS, drug and alcohol awareness, homelessness, and more.

I’ve performed in plays myself there, but mostly I’ve witnessed the creativity and I’ve never come away without being changed.  And I’m not just changed by the art, but by the people themselves.  Whenever I enter that place it’s like another home- I’ve seen teens that want to go every day just to BE there- just to be part of whatever is unfolding, tiny or grand.

The people?  I’ve found myself standing side by side with people I’d probably never encounter if left to my own natural tendencies.  Because it’s so easy to be with people I know and who think just like me and look like me.  But Epoch has an amazing way of bringing people together, and lives are made richer as we share who we are with others, and our preconceived ideas about others break down.

And I’ve heard the questions.  Because it’s a safe place to ask them. Questions about the what and the why and the how.  Conversations about those things that we all need to ask but don’t always think we “should”.  I’ve seen the wrestling through the pain and the hurt and the really ugly parts of life.

And so I know Epoch is what I want to encourage through this book.  And whether we raise $200 or $2000 or beyond, YOU get to be part of the magic of this little corner of my town!

So thank you for being part of my community, for all who have encouraged and loved and supported me.  And thank you for making it possible for me to love another community out there in my own little way.

And If you’re in the area and you’ve never been, I can’t tell you enough how amazing it is!  I’ll bring you there myself and give you a tour. 🙂

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            Me and my son at the kids’ “Mad Hatter Tea Party” at Epoch- We’re ready to show you around!!

 

The Heart of “Gray Faith”

So let me start by saying, YES, I’m posting a mock-up picture of the cover of my book at the end of this blog as promised.  (Thanks to so many of you who were awesome enough to give me some feedback about my book title!)  But don’t be like kids that open the present without reading the card first……….. Based on your awkward silence, I’m pretty sure most of you just cheated and peaked anyway.  I forgive you, mostly because I suspect that the picture might appear next to my blog link anyway. So much for the element of surprise.

Anyway…as we’re closing in on roughly a month till publishing, I just want to share a bit of my heart for the book with you.

Gray Faith started out as a journey to write my story, but I’m realizing it’s quickly becoming a quest to find out about YOURS.  The more people I encounter, the more I’ve found that everyone has a story of searching, asking, digging.  I’m constantly marveling at how the uniqueness of our stories always seems to intersect in the quest for genuine, for love.

I’ve found that people actually respond better to messy honesty than plastic perfection.  As my friend Kathy recently said about life in general; “We are tired of being advertised to.”

We want answers, but not platitudes.  We don’t want some quick bandage statement to make us feel better for today.  Right?  We want something solid that we can stand on, not just in the sunshine, not just in the rain, but when the flood is completely surrounding us and the downpour isn’t letting up.

My faith has given me hope, but I had to test that hope in the fire of questions, in an honest wrestling with God.  My journey has felt to me at times like a divine experiment.  Maybe your story is different from mine, but I believe that for all of us, our most genuine belief is often forged through times of uncertainty and struggle.

I recently came up with a possible back cover “blurb” for the book.  (Or whatever technical word authors use for blurb.)  People, I panicked over this because, Lord knows, I don’t have the gift of “succinct”.  But I’ll share this with you now because I’m hoping this idea resonates with you.  And even more, I’m hoping that soon I’ll get to read a whole bunch of your own stories of gray faith, wherever you are at:

Is your faith more like a script or an experiment?  Knowing all the right words and actions might make us feel good at first, but does it have any power to change real life?  Is it big enough for broken people, a deeper purpose, suffering and uncertainty?  

What if all of the answers we know so well are keeping us from really experiencing the God we claim to follow?  

Gray Faith is the story of the questions and struggles that taught one pastor’s daughter to trade in good Christianity for something messy but genuine.  It’s an invitation to bring your own questions and imperfect stories and find that you aren’t alone.  

It’s OK for faith to be a journey where we learn a little at a time and still make mistakes.  It’s OK to ditch the script and find God in the questions.”

Original Artwork by Jeffrey Burr

(I hope you enjoy my husband’s awesome design!  The man is amazing.  I simply ask that you don’t post the picture yet aside from re-posting the blog, until I’m able to finalize the picture and publish the book!  Thanks so much for your ongoing support and encouragement.)

  

 

 

Enough Questions to Fill a Book

Have you ever been annoyed with someone who seemed like they had all the answers?  The more confident someone is in their perpetual rightness, the less interested I am in what they have to say, even if they’re right about an awful lot.  But if someone is open to dialogue, I’m all ears.

I have my own answers, sure, but it turns out I’m a question girl.  I prefer to sit with people and discuss- dig up questions and variations and explore the whys and the exceptions.  I’d rather wrestle through an issue for myself than take anything at face value.  (Maybe that’s my fatal flaw…I’m open to discussing that with you.)

Questions shape my whole life, but especially my faith.  I’ve spent my whole life surrounded by Christianity, but it turns out God is not simply absorbed through going to church regularly or memorizing all the Bible facts.  I actually grew up thinking I was the one with all the answers- but all my head answers seemed to lack any power to fully change me.

But when I approach my faith with all my honest questions- when I wrestle through the hardest places of my life- I’m finding a God that is much bigger than the Sunday school answers, the head faith I’ve always tried to climb out of.

Maybe you’ve been there?  Maybe you grew up going to church…religiously, you might say.  Maybe you’ve believed in God for a long time in your head, but wondered where He was in your practical life.  Or maybe you’ve been searching- trying faith or avoiding faith- struggling with hypocrites you’ve seen inside Christianity (unfortunately, I’ve been one), or wondering if you’d ever belong in a faith gathering with all of the questions you have.  Is faith just there to make us feel better, or is there more to it?

I’ve actually spent the last couple of years writing a book about my faith story, in all it’s messiness.  I’m calling it “Gray Faith” because it truly is a book of the questions and struggles that somehow lead me to meet a Jesus bigger than the Christianity I was following.  For me, the most beautiful blossoms of my belief have flourished in honest uncertainty, in the circumstances of the winter season.

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And the exciting thing is, I’m hoping to publish it in mid-June! Of course this date is coming from a girl who can barely plan a functional trip to the library with friends for next week.  But I wanted to let you all know, especially as I’m awkwardly attempting to build an author page on Facebook to share updates and videos for the upcoming book.  And I desperately want the page to be a place where people can open up about the gray faith of their lives- whatever that looks like.

I so appreciate those of you who read my blog and have offered your own encouragement and stories. (Oh, and for being patient with me as I bumble through this technology stuff.)  If you want to keep in-the-loop about the book, subscribe to my blog or visit (and LIKE) my Facebook Author Page.  I plan to share a bit more detail in the coming weeks!