How do we summarize a year like 2020? One way is NOT to use the words everyone else uses to describe it. So I won’t. I’ll do what I usually do in my year end posts: hit the highlights and some of the rest of the stuff that made my year.
Be My Guest
For 2020, I invited more authors to share here. I enjoy learning from different people and hearing their stories and what better place than one where we’re learning to live like it matters. Each month, a guest author wrote a post for my Live Like It Matters feature. Several authors are local but two live in California, one is from Michigan, and another lives in Tennessee. Bruce Martin started us off in A Single Forward Step. The youngest guest author, Alaina Aldridge, published her contribution called, It’s the Little Things Too, in April. Other authors’ contributions included Undiluted, Value Restored, and Lord, Make Us Like Our Kids.
On January 10, I published the first post in my Giant Church Incorporated series called Why I Left Giant Church Inc. I never imagined that I would ever put that story out into the world, but I’m thankful I did. It is my most read series since the beginning of my blogging days. The response has been overwhelming, with new readers daily. My story resonates with so many because it’s their story, too. I’m humbled when readers tell me they felt less alone and that it helped them find the words for their own experience. My prayer is that people who are hurt by the church will turn to Jesus to find hope and healing.
The work is just beginning though. I will continue writing and speaking out to educate the church about the problem of Giant Church Incorporated, point the church back to Jesus, and help us learn how to create a culture of goodness in our churches and Christian organizations. There’s an entire network of writers, educators, speakers, counselors, and other advocates doing this good and necessary work. Now, I am one of them.
I partnered with GRACE to help raise funds during their GrowingGrace campaign, and in 2021, I will participate in a Tears of Eden focus group to share ideas about how to build a safe community for those harmed by the church. My story was posted on the Tears of Eden blog. They are a 501c3 providing community and resources for survivors of spiritual abuse and creating content on the Uncertain Podcast to encourage the church to do better. I’m glad to work with both GRACE and Tears of Eden.
Reading is a big part of my life and I like to help authors get their work out into the world! I helped launch four important books this year.
I was thrilled to be part of Chuck DeGroat’s launch team for his latest book, When Narcissism Comes to Church. It helped inform my writing for the Giant Church Inc series and gave me a better understanding of the problem.
Who knew we needed a council to describe what biblical manhood and womanhood looks like? Apparently Wayne Grudem thought so, then in 1991, John Piper and Grudem wrote a book called Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Almost thirty years later, Aimee Byrd’s book, Recovering From Biblical Manhood and Womanhood caused quite a stir among some who stubbornly hold to a patriarchal view. She is humble and faithful as she seeks to understand God’s Word on the matter. I reviewed the book in a post called In Need of Recovery.
Mid year, I was honored to be part of The Way Up is Down launch team. The author, Marlena Graves, met with us weekly via Zoom to discuss the book. That was the beginning of new friendships, a deeper prayer life, and God showing me the wide goodness of His love in new ways.
When I found out Diane Langberg was releasing a new book, I knew I needed to read it for my Giant Church Inc work. When I found out her publisher was putting together a launch team, I jumped at the opportunity. Her work is vital to help us know how to prevent and fight against toxic cultures and abuse, and learn how to help people heal. She is passionate about pointing people to Jesus, the Great and Good Shepherd. My review of her book is found on the post by the same name, Redeeming Power. Also, listen to Katherine Spearing interview Diane Langberg on an episode of the Uncertain Podcast here. Sometimes when you’re on a launch team and ask the director of that launch team if the author would consider being interviewed by someone you’re working with for her podcast, IT HAPPENS!
Tried and True
Because of my Giant Church Inc series and launch team work, I didn’t write many new Monday School posts but managed to write Finish Strong in the spring and The Light Has Come recently. A few Beauty Breaks went out as well, but I do more of those on Instagram. Bud and Bloom came out near the beginning of the pandemic quarantine, and The Wilderness highlighted my grand birthday hike.
And Something New
Love and several news events prompted me to read The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby. I joined a FB discussion group he led as I read through it. He and the other admins discussed topics, asked questions, and gave journal prompts to the group. We interacted with one another in the safe space they created. I am better because of what I learned there.
Later in the summer I took a free course offered at the Nashotah House Theological Seminary called The Bible in Color taught by Dr. Esau McCaulley. It was one of the most enriching learning experiences I’ve participated in. I know God better, I understand my siblings in Christ more, and I learned some church history. The Nashotah House asked me to write an essay about my experience in the class. They published it in The Chapter, an online magazine for alumni, and I posted it in Then the World Will Know.
I played around with a new feature called Just For You. The idea came from my friends and family who tell me I have a knack for giving them good and useful information. Mostly I want to have a discussion, prompt a new thought or idea, expand our knowledge, or inspire growth and creativity. To say it in an easier way: I want to help people live like it matters. I plan to develop that and more ideas in the new year.
Here’s to a new day, a new year, and new opportunities. Here we come 2021!
Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.Isaiah 43:19 CSB