Hi friends! You guys, it's 2018 and I'm finally back from dreaded flu!
My book, Finding Holy in the Suburbs: Living Faithfully in the Land of Too Much, comes out with IVP this fall, and I can't wait to share more about it with you!
In the meantime, I wanted to start some conversations in my minivan where you can listen in to how I'm #findingholyinthesuburbs. You'll find those videos coming up on my Facebook page so make sure you "like" it to follow along. (I'm also super keen on Instagram stories!)
Here's a little minivan chronicle to get you started -- a little about me, my book, and how you can get involved!
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Perhaps you're out of routine and haven't grabbed 2018 by the horns yet, like me? Maybe you got some version of the dreaded flu? Or maybe you just found yourself a bit dizzy at the end of 2017 and into 2018.
If that's the case, I'd love for you to read my latest for the Mudroom -- all about how to not lose your footing on a tilt-a-whirl. But really it's about marriage and excess and stability.
I admit to being a bit spoiled: my husband hardly travels much for work anymore. Now, as a church planter, we practice staying put, putting down roots, being placed. (How else, can we plant an outpost for God's kingdom if we're always moving on?)
But over the holidays, I sent him off on a plane for a three-day ski trip. Back to the mountains of Utah: to ski the "greatest snow on earth."
Out of practice of solo parenting or sleeping alone, I kept his pocketknife on my bedside table and my phone plugged in to the wall (to, of course, call the police when an inevitable imaginary intruder came through my front door. I'd call and then use the pocket knife if need be.)
It was a silly garrison, little things piled up to keep away all the unstable fears that came falling out when my husband, that most stable of people, left for a few days.
And when that most stable of men -- the one I've vowed to love, honor, and cherish till death do us part -- left for a few days, I unravelled a bit. Not so much by making my bedroom a garrison, but I had I lost the ordinary boundaries on my consumption.
I didn't cook.
I ate junk.
I stayed up until 1:30 in the morning obsessed with whatever was happening on Twitter. I began fruitless job searches on LinkedIn. I even re-did my LinkedIn profile.
I took everything from the wrong angle -- glutting myself on sugar, information, possibilities -- rather than learning how to step back, practice self-control and patience, and make goals and plans to help me make decisions, from everything from what to eat and where to work. I became a black hole for whatever promised to satisfy at the moment -- the glass of wine, the rest of the English toffee, the scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, the job openings that I didn't even want.
I'm back to some storytelling and The Mudroom. I'd love for you to read the rest.
When I finished writing my book and turned in Finding Holy in the Suburbs for edits, I felt a bit out-of-place. I'd expected to have all the stories to belong to the place I lived. After buying our rental home, I'd expected more permanence. It turns out that place and belonging are wrapped up together in a relationship as confusing as an on-again off-again relationship.
We ask our places to provide a setting, a context — but we do not love them like a full-bodied character with desires of their own. What if our places were not mere settings that we could shape like silly putty, bending them to our desires? What if they were not expendable, plastic containers where we stored our stuff and housed our memories, where we are apt to change places like a quick change of seasonal decor?
What if our land, our cities, our suburbs, were somehow as real, as vivid, as powerful agents of change as the people in them? What if our places were actually holy?
I suppose it’s nice to think deeply about such things as place, space, land, and humanity. Yet it’s an easy out to actually living well, to being emplaced, bodily creatures. (At least it is for me.) My feet are rooted (most often) in gray tile squares in my suburban kitchen. Here I watch the neighborhood children race by on their neon bikes, I shout to my own children to come inside, I sweep the endless crumbs. I cut and chop. I pile dishes. I scoop out coffee grinds into the trash, get the stray lime out from the disposal, and dry the clean knife blade and put it away because it’s the good one. I turn out meal after meal after meal, sometimes digging in the freezer to fill it out, often adding more garlic, more pepper, and fresh cilantro.
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I'm also booking speaking engagements for the Fall, find out more here.
All my newsletter friends already know (make sure you don't miss out on news first: subscribe here), but I have some big news!
October 2014 I had an infant, a 2.5 year old, a Kindergartner and 1st grader. My husband was starting to get antsy in his job and I had had so many babies and done so many things that I was starting to lose a bit of myself. Do you know what it's like to start to lose you? So I turned to Write 31 days, a 30-day blogging challenge just to have something that was for me. I wrote on finding beauty in the mundane because I desperately needed to find God in my busy, whiny world.
Writing saved me.
Not that I'd found my life's vocation or the heavens opened, but I did a small thing for me that opened me up, allowed me to think through things and helped me better care for others -- for my family, friends, and new friends met online.
After that month, I kept writing. I joined Tribe Writers and Clumsy Bloggers and Redbud Writers Guild. I wrote for The Mudroom because the editor, Tammy Perlmutter, liked what I wrote. I met new friends. I went to a writing conference in Portland in 2015 and then to the Festival of Faith and Writing in 2016. I wrote for (in)courage, ThinkChristian, Books & Culture, The Englewood Review of Books, The Well, other friends' blogs (see some of those here). I was chasing what I was curious about.
At Festival of Faith & Writing, I felt like I'd come home. There were academics (some of my undergraduate professors!), philosophers, poets, bloggers, authors I'd admired. We all fit there. I also met Helen Lee of InterVarsity Press and we had a lovely conversation about my book ideas.
I wrote a book proposal and kept putting myself out there -- not because I wanted fame or because I felt I was "all that" -- but because I needed to chase the ideas to the very end and I'd heard how my writing had met people. How it had clarified things for them. That something that I thought could save only me was also a gift to share.
Later this fall, that book proposal was revised and then accepted by InterVarsity Press for publication. I'm writing a real, live book that will get in your hands! I think I was stunned for about a month and now am in the trenches writing. It's exciting and yet I know that such work never happens in a vacuum and that writing is a form of prayer and sustained attention.
The book's working title is Finding Holy in the Suburbs, it's my own journey back to suburbia and finding belonging in Jesus rather than a zip code. It's my love letter to Christians who grew up thinking they had to do something radical to really follow Jesus. When more than half of Americans live in a suburb, we need a way to practice ordinary means of grace with delight, while eschewing the idols of our places. In God's kingdom, there are no little places and the suburbs can be a place to house the glory of God.
I know there are potential readers hungry for this book and that's where you come in, even now.
Book-writing is a long process and it's unlikely to be on shelves until 2018 with writing and editing. But I need your help with two things.
I need prayer. If you could commit to praying for my writing time daily or weekly, I need it. With little kids, a husband who is over-extended as a church planter, and all that we all do, writing happens in small cracks of time. I need prayer for those small times to be productive and Spirit-filled. Please comment and let me know if you want to join my prayer team; I'll add you to a separate, intimate list of pray-ers. I'd be honored.
I need people. I'm passionate about the message of Finding Holy in the Suburbs. If there's someone you know who could use the message of this book, could you share this with them? There will be plenty of time later for launch team and promotion and all the fun parties surrounding the book. But I want to make sure that the book I'm writing gets to the people who need it. And that means they're not only aware of it but also receive my newsletters to get the first bit of info. Thank you!
If you haven't signed up for my newsletter, I'd be honored if you would. I write nearly monthly. It's an intimate letter of sorts, holds my favorite book recommendations, and you're the first to know about book news and giveaways. I'm sending one soon with my favorite books of 2016. Don't miss out.
Thank you friends, for being on this journey with me. I can't wait to update you all about it.
Sign up now to hear more about Finding Holy in the Suburbs and be sure to comment or email to be added to my prayer team.