2012 Lists: Reflections not Resolutions

2012

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So since everyone seems to be doing it (and since I’ve loved reading everyone’s) I’ve decided to make a few 2012 lists of my own- reflections not resolutions. Books, moments and blogs are what I am covering in this post. I have to say, cataloging for the past hour has actually been a life-giving practice. Remembering how each item on these lists has quenched the thirst of my soul makes me incredibly grateful to have lived in the year 2012. Here they are:

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…Best Books…

1. The Sacredness of Questioning Everything

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Granted, I am still in the middle of it, but this book has freed me in so many ways already. David Dark paints the picture of a God that you always knew and then burns it to the ground. Humor him, and assume that God isn’t the fit in a box cosmic grinch you thought He was. In this read, skeptics and doubters are given their due credit for constantly craving authentic and bulletproof truth. Something the Church sometimes lacks an appetite for. No sacred cow is beyond question, leaving you with just scriptures and stories and the start of an organic and thriving faith.

2. Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs Christians Debate

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Justin Lee delivers what many have called “THE must read” book for those trying to understand the culture war raging on inside the church. So often we hear about the political nature of gay rights, Justin Lee narrates his way into the heart of the beast (I don’t say that facetiously). The stories he presents from his experiences in Ex Gay therapy, Christian college, and his life in the last several years reaffirm his belief that our “stories are more powerful than our arguments.” You see the devote man of faith more than the gay Christian man. He transcends it all, and provides the most detailed and important way forward.

3. Love is an Orientation

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There is perhaps no other book that has had a bigger impact on my life than Andrew Marin’s, Love is an Orientation. I’ll admit, when my brother first gave me a copy of it, I was skeptical. How the hell was a straight conservative Christian man going to articulate the story of the gay outcast? I have never been so happy to be so shocked. Marin is a translator of sorts for the gay community to the conservative Christian community and vice versa. He takes the bag of misinformation about LGBT folks and spills it across the table for all to scrutinize. Anyone who reads this book will not walk away with answers about the Biblical debate over same-sex relationships. They will, however, walk away with a better understanding of their brothers and sisters in Christ and with a richer perspective of who Christ really was. Marin is truly cut from Kingdom cloth and I am proud to tithe to his organization every month. If you would also like to (PLEASE DO!), Click here.

4. Evolving in Monkey Town

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It is always wonderful to find someone who sees their faith as complicated as you do. It makes you feel less unsaved. Rachel Held Evans explores the contradictions and scary questions of Christianity in a language we all can understand. The title of this work is based on the famous Scopes Monkey trial that took place in her hometown, basically, the Creationism vs Evolution throwdown. Her words are so encouraging to all Christians who fear fundamentalism and its request that we check our brains at the Chapel door.

5. The Scarlet Letter

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An oldie but a goodie. I reread Nathaniel Hawthornes book this year on the life of a social pariah. Hester Prynne is a hero to all of us who have felt out of step, or worse, locked out of the community of faith we so desperately want to be a part of. She swam with sharks for most of her life, with her delinquent little daughter in tow, always bearing the mark of shame on her chest. So much spiritual substance exists in the pages of this book. Overcoming adversity, the agony of ostracism, and putting ourselves all-in. She took the mark and made it into a sign of compassion and empathy. As another writer once said, “In the service of love, only wounded warriors can serve” (Brennan Manning).

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…Greatest Moments…

  1. When the Minnesota Marriage Amendment FAILED

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And marriage equality passed in quite a few others

And the first openly gay senator was elected

And ex gay therapy became illegal for minors in California

And the Church of Latter Day Saints took a big step in the right direction

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2. When Gabby Douglas became America’s Sweetheart

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The first minority from the US to win the All-Around… ever.

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3. When NYPD Officer Larry Deprimo purchased a brand new pair of boots for this homeless man. Exhibit A to Christ’s work in the world.

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“I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me” Matthew 25: 36 (NIV)

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4. When Governor Christie and President Obama sent a reminder that we are all human first.

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We don’t have to see eye to eye to walk hand in hand

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5. When this awesome kid stood up to hate

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Truth lasts;
lies are here today, gone tomorrow.”

Proverbs 12:19 (MSG)

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…Most Awesome Blogs…

1. Incite Faith

And in the mean time, we find who we think we are through other people. Because they’re popular. They have a message that resonates with you. It’s attractive. Everyone ‘agrees’ with it because the desire to be popular and accepted is an easy cover than being vulnerable and authentic.

I’ve fallen in this trap. To agree and believe other people for the sake of merit instead of embracing who we already are, does ourselves an injustice. To believe I’m this wonderful woman of God and have all my crap together would make me a fraud. Because I don’t. I’m not. I struggle everyday…
On finding our identity in Christ

If you follow Julie on twitter, you know how much she cares for people. I have yet to see someone so willing to do whatever she can to uplift those that feel broken down. Her writing has an emotional intelligence to it, which is so rare. She is fearless in her honesty and you see it in every word written. I hope one day I can match her courage.

2. The Monster in Your Closet

My mom died having met only one of her grandchildren: my son. My gratitude that she lived long enough to do so was tempered by sadness my sisters would never see their own children in her arms. I felt guilty every time I shared images of my mom holding my son, because the joy I felt was one I deeply wished my sisters could have known firsthand. Its very presence implied absence.

When I saw the picture my sister sent me, it was truth. It was a truth I have longed for since my siblings and I laid our mom to rest.

You can see it for yourself hereA reflection about her late mother

Deb is great. I have only had a few interactions with her over twitter and the blogosphere, but I thoroughly enjoy her writing. Nothing is off the table on her blog. She takes on issues outside of herself like being LGBT Ally, stories of her adorable son, and then, the heartbreaking and honorable posts about her own mother. The story she shares is well worth the read, I am happy I found her!

3. Running from Hell with El

I’m one of the lucky ones. I get the treatment and the care and the compassion that so many of my ill brethren do not receive. Most people don’t even know that I’m ill. You see, I know the warning signs. In the case of manic episodes, my mind starts racing. Creative thoughts pile onto creative thoughts, and then it gets faster and faster and I can’t stop working won’t stop working don’t want to stop working and it’s amazing the things I can get done . . . but I feel an overload, an imbalance, a systems shutdown approaching. But like a jet plane hurtling through the air on cruise control, I cannot switch directions, not even when I know exactly how it’s going to end: nose down in the mountainside… On Stigmas of Mental Illness

Currently I am nose deep in the RIVETING novel, Ripple, by El. This blogger covers everything from the events of the week to personal testimony. As someone who has often thought about becoming an author, it is wild to read about El’s travels through the world of publishing a novel. I respect anyone willing to walk into that world and, let me make sure one thing is clear…. I am not just being nice about the book, it is actually incredible. Visit the page and see how you can get a copy!

4. Unchained Faith

As a parent of a child with a diagnosed condition, I can’t imagine wanting him to be anything other than the person he is. Does he drive me crazy? Oh, yes. Do I worry that his impulsive nature might not only get him in trouble but land him in the hospital? Definitely. Do I think he needs help learning to navigate around his struggles? You bet. But do I want to stamp it out of him? Not a chance in hell… Discussing Ex Gay Therapy

What I find appealing in any and all writing are people who are unafraid of tough questions. On her blog, Amy, takes on all the haunting thoughts that Christians are often afraid to face. This is definitely a safehouse for the stray!

5. A Flock of Crows

Well, in my humble opinion. Both sides are so busy shouting at each other, they don’t even try to look for a way forward. They could, should, find a level playing field by getting to understand the mindset of gay Christians. The activists could attempt to understand the convictions of our faith, the Christians could attempt to see why we believe we are God’s gay children. If either side could, for one moment, believe what we believe, maybe we could end this war. Instead we are dismissed as self-hating by gays, and as false Christians by those of faith. It’s a sad state of affairs… On being gay and Christian.

I don’t know how much more of a twin I could ask for than D.L. Aiden, blogger of a flock of crows. We are both gay, both Christian, both anonymous and both looking forward to the day when we won’t have to be. This girl is a writer in every sense of the word (except bad!) I love reading her posts, hearing her thoughts on the tension we both live in and seeing the comfort and strength she approaches it with. Let her words refresh you.

6. Joy in this Journey

As much as I get where they are coming from, I simply cannot put some clothes on my writing. For me, writing with clothes on is fake and results in garbage. The truth is that life can dump you into a latrine, and let me tell you, when you’re swimming in excrement, Mrs. Sunshine chirping cliches and pretending all is fine doesn’t help. You need someone who has been there and survived, who knows how you can get out and get cleaned up. That is both hope and help… On writing nakedly

No doubt you have heard of this blog, but Joy in this Journey by Joy Bennett is one of those pages that pulls at both your heart and your head strings. Unapologetically (but also, kindly) she aims at the shame Church can often perpetuate. Yet, her blog is so much more than that. Her words about the loss of one of her children will spill tears onto your key unless you don’t have pulse. Her philosophy is to write without masks, an inspirational message to us all.

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Just imagine what 2013 will bring…

RR

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8 thoughts on “2012 Lists: Reflections not Resolutions

  1. RR,

    You continue to inspire me. Thank you for including me in this powerful list. Humbled by you.

    I’ve been with you from the beginning and I can’t wait to see what 2013 does for you. I’m in your corner and cheering you on.

    I am so proud of you and love your raw and authentic transparency. Though a ‘ghost’ you are covered in grace which resounds so deeply to your core. I see it in everything you write and in words yet spoken.

    Look forward to standing with you in the new year.

    Love you,
    ~Julie

    • I can’t say it any better than Julie did. I too am grateful and so honored to have met you here. I think you’re wonderful and do write a book, so that I can read you in longer doses than 5-minute blog posts. You’re so talented, my friend.

    • Julie you are one of the few people i have learned SO MUCH from this past year. Since that first twitter message you have been unbelievably encouraging and, more than anything else, inspiring. I am so happy that you welcomed me into the world of online writing. Thank you for always bestowing grace when i was thirsty for it and truth when i had to hear it. Love you Julie!

  2. Thanks for the mention! I am always honored when bloggers I like and respect reciprocate. 🙂

    Great book suggestions–now I have some ideas for reading material this year. I might even go ahead and reread Scarlet Letter myself; I’m sure it will look different to me than it did twenty years ago when I last read it.

    • Can i just say, i am really happy you found my blog! Your post about mental illness and adam lanzas mother opened my eyes to a whole new point of view that i had never considered before. I really appreciate your passion for making faith authentic and real. For you… you MUST READ David Darks book (#1 on the list) i know you’ll love it.

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