My parents moved to Texas while I was in college. I visited them during spring break one year and heard Brennan Manning was scheduled to speak at a church in Austin. I made my dad take me there to hear him talk about the love of God in person.
Another time I drove six hours to hear Malcolm Smith preach a Sunday night sermon in Atlanta. His sermon was called The Pain of Perfection. I had heard the sermon before on tape, but I wanted to hear it again in person. I still remember how he said ‘perfect’ in his British accent – PEH-fect, almost with a growl.
After I graduated from college, I started working as a sign language interpreter. On the last day of school that year, I left Greensboro and drove west for 8 hours to Nashville to spend the summer taking a full time discipleship training course with the Association for Exchanged Life Ministries. We were in class from 8 to 5 everyday.
It was intense. I was 23.
While I did that course in Nashville, John (who was only my boyfriend then) did the same course in Georgia. We read the same books, listened to the same sermons, traded notes over coffee and quotes over email.
We were a lot of fun at parties, as you can imagine.
We got engaged one month after we returned home from that course.
Now, thirteen years later, the thing John and I talk about more than anything else – more than money or our kids or what we’re having for dinner – is the grace of God and the companionship of Jesus in our everyday lives. Money and kids and dinner are often part of those conversations, but Jesus is generally the filter through which we see everything else.
We fight and disagree and ask hard questions, but it always comes back to grace.
For us, learning about grace and the life of Christ is deeply personal but also, on a more surface level, we’ve always thought it was kind of fun.
Now that I write for a living, these are the things that most naturally come out. I’m drawn to the daily uncovering of my life as it is united with the life of Christ; to discover what he looks like coming out of my unique personality and to perhaps poke-awake an awareness in others of what he might look like coming out of them.
Everything I write or speak about will always have that at the core – Christ in you, the hope of glory. I will work hard to package this in different ways, but really I have just this one thing to say.
For the past three years I’ve participated in The Nester’s 31 Days of writing series so it might seem like I have all these different things to say. For example, here are the topics I wrote about for the last three years:
2010: 31 Days of Grace
The packaging was different, but each year the same message weaved its way through my writing – if Christ is in you then wants to come out through you. That’s essentially what I write about all the time. And even though sometimes I wish I was passionate about something a little lighter like food or organizing or (my personal favorite) candlestick-making, I’ve mostly accepted the way Father has made me and I’ve decided to go with it.
31 days for 2013
Starting next Monday night (yes, 31 days actually starts on the night of September 30 – it’s a time zone thing), I plan to join in and write for 31 days again this year.
But even though I’ve chosen a new topic, now you know the secret.
I want to continue to explore what it means to experience life as a lyric rather than a list, what it means that God made us and called us art, what it means to be art as a human and to make art in the world. I wrote a whole book about this and I hope you’ll read that, too. But for this 31 days I want to challenge myself to continue to write my way around this topic and see what new things might come out.
Are you thinking about joining in for 31 days but you’re not sure what to write about? Consider something you’ve done before but maybe experiment with looking at it from a different angle. You don’t have to come up with a million different interesting things to say. Maybe there is one simple passion that brings you to life and it begs to be expressed in many ways, maybe even a million little ways.
(See what I did there? Packaging.)
A Million Little Ways officially releases next week which means the pre-order bonuses will expire in 5 days. If you pre-order the book, be sure to fill out this short form to get your gifts. I think Barnes and Noble already has the book in stock so check there first – in person or online!