4.03.2014

Walking with Christ Online :: thoughts on faith, calling and diversity

{The Conundrums of Writing and Blogging: A Series}



I am so very pleased to introduce to you my new friend, and who I can tell will be a forever-friend, Lisha Epperson. We’ve already gotten the hard stuff out of the way—this is a woman whom I already admire for her courage, her heart, and how she shows that she is so very human. She is audacious in her words here, and they challenge and inspire me. 

Mine and Lisha’s heart beat for the same thing: real change. We ache for it. Please listen to her story with a wide-open heart, and show her some love in the comments. I have gotten to know Lisha and I know where she is coming from here—from love, the kind that Jesus poured out and you couldn’t help but be changed. That is what is present here today. I pray we are all challenged and changed by her words.





                          
                                                                photo credit--Flickr CC gollygforce 

I call myself an accidental writer.
Suffocating in my minivan one summer, the summer my youngest turned 1, midlife motherhood wrecked and wrung me….left me stranded in the loneliest season of my life. God whispered the idea. “Write” he said, an unexpected answer to my desperate question. As I watched my mommy friends dash off for coffee again, without me, I wondered.. “How can I make this time useful? What can I do?”
I’d drop off the tweens and find my self stuck – in sandmans’ land with the littlest Lovelies. Fiddling around on Facebook led to twinklings on Twitter and the next thing you know…I had a blog.
A year in, and I’m still in love, still excited by the shaping of words like so many dancers in the beautiful synchronicity of choreography. But for a while fear was part of the journey…and expectation and comparison, and doubt. The initial rush and sweaty palms developed into a rapidly beating heart. I got scared.
That first post was thrilling in that jumping tandem way. I took the leap with God and felt confident of his presence. Sending my words out in cyberspace was a blast. But I lacked focus . I walked the unfamiliar halls of the blogging world glancing back at every sound. To break through the web of cries and catcalls for attention I had to hear His heartbeat. Respond only…to echoes of His voice.
So I developed a mantra…
1,2,3 Jesus. I count and let his name escape my lips. My rhythmical ritual, my soft silent prayer before posting. Every word is important and every offering good in a God way. I’m at a point in this relationship where what I thought was a fling feels like forever. It’s bigger and more important and I pray for the confidence commitment brings.
I’m still trying to find my voice. And beyond encouragement, struggle to write anything tangibly resourceful. I don’t know if I have a niche and wonder how one monetizes a ministry of words. Is it possible I’ve stumbled into my calling? In literally oceans of talent have I found my wave?
And then there’s this…I wonder if it’s too late and if there’s room.  Christians haven’t escaped the polarized packaged perfection of the typical Western experience. By and large, it’s the same old, same old. With few exceptions it’s segregated…by age and race. The subtle maybe even subliminal message for women my age and ethnicity is “prepare for landing” or “this” is not for you. The words may never be spoken…but they’re implied. When I walk into a room of 500 and see only a handful of people of color…I feel it. It’s what I think when I see a conference line up features only one face of color or platforms only thirty somethings.
As for race, Dr. King highlighted the sad fact of our separation as Christians. And too much of its broken truth is part of our online world today. Our continued division perpetuates the worlds narrative about people of color and the value of older women. We have to intentionally do better. Everything about our walk with Christ has to be intentional…especially if our goal is unification of the body.
And who’s doing the planning anyway? And is there really only room for one? One woman of color? One fabulously silver saint? It’s hard to say this because I know there’s grace for growth on all sides but it’s something we have to address. These words, from Holly Gerth and Brene Brown, inspired me to to push the envelope a little bit further today. Maybe cause a conversation. Incite a beautiful revolution. Take a stab at true diversity.


Fear will always tell you to keep quiet.
But love will always ask you to speak up.
And we need your story.
– Holly Gerth
Is there anything braver than asking for what we need and owning our story? I don’t think so.  - Brene Brown
And so I pose the question. I prayerfully voice my concerns as a new blogger. I’m taking in the landscape and I’m looking for level ground. Ground we’ve worn down with love…together. And I want to see me…standing…with you. Because this experience has birthed new sisters and I’m grateful for open doors and opportunities. I love ya’ll.
Still….Every woman of color might not express it but I know she’s thinking it. And every woman over 45 wonders if she’ll be the oldest woman in the conference hall. Our eyes meet between sessions and we laugh nervously about which of us is the oldest. Or we share a knowing glance or nod of solidarity. Your story, my story is part of the universal canvas. We can’t do this walk…in love….in the name of Christ…without each other.

sixinthestixlove


I want to attend Christian conferences for women. We may be in different seasons but we all benefit when we stretch and shift our minds to accommodate the perspective of another. Lets not perpetuate the problem by pushing ourselves into corners with our “own” clubs.
Here’s the deal.. honestly, it hurts to attend events where the only other faces of color are onscreen….when slides from a missions trip are run. I want to attend a Christian conference. If I’m “the only” , and others are "the only" where they are, then we need to all ask ourselves this question: is this true community? And without true community, I can’t receive the breadth of Christ’s provision…which is offered for all.
I’m a Titus 2 woman circling the sun in brown skin. I’m living the concrete beauty of a human experience. My life is full. Things you have to live to know? I know. But for me age is only a number and I understand the universality of many experiences. Is there a limit or line to cross to know the split wide Red Sea drama of motherhood, or the soul crush of NO in answer to your greatest wish. Or to know waiting.
No. Does He have a word for everyone but people of color? Middle-aged mamas/women?Did He not pour out his love, creativity, compassion, grace, peace, wisdom on all?
God is on the move. We’re living in an amazing era with an unprecedented capacity to reach people for Christ. We can’t limit him by caging his plans with barriers based on our minuscule vision of what He Can Do. A myopic gathering will not serve the nations and I can’t sit back and let this wave of goodness wash over without engaging in the beauty of its baptism. I should be in the water. I can show you what it looks like to believe because faith taught me to swim.
So we write anyway, don’t we? Because He says so and pray this experience of platforms and tweets is indeed a sacred offering. A place to wash the feet of others as he strips us bare. Every blogger I’ve connected with shares a story of the breakdown before birth. The breakthrough happens after an avalanche of truth. We won’t make it without authenticity. Because this is holy hard work and we don’t want to just be the next one. We have to be called of The One.
I told a friend whats happening to me online is a mirroring of what God is doing in my life spiritually. Its a holy integration of life and faith, head and heart. This journey takes place in real time. It’s holy and holistic.
Above all else we have to be found in his presence…before the throne and digging in hard. Planting feet, soul, heart…deep. Listening. Wholly immersed and grounded in His magnificent all inclusive plan. This is the forever I’ve been searching for. It’s eternal. An offering of words for such a time as this… I’ll keep writing. Will you?
p.s. Deidra Riggs did a fabulous job of highlighting conferences that are making an effort to do the hard work of diversity.  You can read that here.







View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allumeheadshots

Lisha Epperson writes the stories of her life on the couch, in the car or at the kitchen table. Scratching out bits and pieces of grace while homeschooling 4 of the 5 children she affectionately calls the Lovelies. ….. you’ll usually find her with a  cold cup of coffee nearby, dreaming about the beautiful choreography of words. It isn’t easy to carve out a modern Christian lifestyle in NYC but that’s what she’s doing. Lisha is passionate about marriage, motherhood, nutrition and her Christian faith. She makes room for her journey through infertility and adoption and shares a warrior song about this experience as an encouragement to women at www.lishaepperson.com  God has opened doors for her to participate in loving dialogue on race in the Christian community. She hopes you’ll join her in those discussions. In other travels, Lisha                                                                 was a ballet dancer and clothing designer.







linking with friends, MichelleHolleyEmilyJennifer and Outside the City Gate

{**Have you seen Kelli Woodford's series: Brave Words? 
                 It'sback again! And I wrote there yesterday, in case you missed it! This whole series is delicious. Please stop over there today and give her some loveClick here.}

**This here is a series on writing--Let's all gather around the table in the comments and discuss! Next week, on Thursday, the 10th, to wrap up the series, Kelli Woodford and I are writing a collaborated post, and hosting a link-up here for you to share your own stories of your writing and blogging journey. Kelli and I will choose one *amazing* story from the link-up to feature on both of our blogs! So, what are the issues we face and deal with as writers? Please keep this theme in mind, and think of how you'd like to share your own story or journey of blogging/writing with us!

**{Requirements for link-up: Please no maligning/no mention in a negative manner of other blogs/authors/writers/brothers & sisters in Christ. Hurt does happen in community, and if we write about that, one option is to change the name/situation/dates, so that the people involved remain anonymous and are protected. "Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends." Proverbs 17:9}



--Other posts in this series below 

In Which I Invite Us All to the Table --Nacole Simmons

A Hand In Your Own -- a guest post from Kelli Woodford


A Divided Loyalty and the Stinging Truth --a guest post from Michelle DeRusha   

Rooted In A Tangible Grace -- Kelli Woodford   

On Prostitution: Cheap Grace and One Word: Enough --Nacole Simmons

In The End, Three Things Remain --a guest post from Holly Grantham

What I Want You to Know About Mental Illness, Social Media, and Community --Nacole Simmons

On Vulnerability and Boundaries --a guest post from Diana Trautwein

35 comments:

  1. Lisha... I love seeing you land in some of my favorite's places... I am always blessed by your words... And I am one of the silvered hair section...one well past her 40's ... I too look at conferences and other place and wonder...is this only for the young? My desire is to see the body live not only more cross racially... But cross generationally ... We both need each other... Me... I need the raw passion of all the 30 and 40 something's ... A passion that time can refine...but also dull... You all stir me and challenge my thinking. But the young need the aged ... Ones that can maybe can help to keep the passion from swinging out so wide as to make oneself dizzy and spinning... I am not talking of restraining and being accountable .... I am talking about loving ...we need mutual respect...really respecting that each person has something to offer...I am not to old to learn from the younger...nor should the young look and see us as outdated...need to love each other to greater freedom in Christ. Thanks for sharing....thanks Nacole bringing Lisha here. Blessings and grace to you both!!!

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  2. One word: LOVE.
    I love every word- thank you for always being Spirit filled and Spirit led.

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  3. Man am I glad you answered God's quiet call to write, Lisha. You have a profound and beautiful voice, and your message here? Very much needed. Thanks for telling the truth, and telling it with beauty and grace.

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  4. How exciting! I'm so glad you, Nacole, were brave enough to invite and you, Lisha, brave enough to respond. :) And Lisha, your words took my breath away. Pure beauty.

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  5. Nacole and I connected through Amy Hunt and have since danced around each other with little messages here and there. I could feel her heart and when I read her words...we'll..you're here,,,you know how outrageous her words are. When she invited me to share as part of the series I was thrilled. I knew my words would have a home among such beautiful hearts...you...her community - ROCK! Thanks so much for reading. I really appreciate it.

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  6. Hi Michelle! I'm telling you today is the day for all the tears because I pray over EVERYTHING I post. But this one...this one had me shaking in my boots. I wrote it in the spirit of a face to face. My husband and I have these tete-a-tetes when one of us really has something to say. We sit down together and just put it out there...but always in love. So I wrote this with my heart and I'm grateful it's received in love. Because THAT is what I'm all about. Love you and love our growing connection.

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  7. I adore the community God's called me to. And I could only write these words in the spirit of family. Which is what you all have become for me. Amen to His continued spirit filling...spirit leading. The blessing of encouragement is not lost on me. Thank you Lori!

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  8. Yes to the silver saints in the house. I seek older women out.. I love to sit at their feet and gain wisdom. It is an honor. I also love sharing my journey with younger women. I teach and am taught by them. Like you I want the breadth of his holy, holistic experience. divine womanhood? In all it's glory. Yes!

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  9. "We won’t make it without authenticity. Because this is holy hard work and we don’t want to just be the next one. We have to be called of The One." Yes and amen, Lisha. You put out there what so many are experiencing, are frustrated by, and are eager to vault over: our self (and community) imposed fences and high walls. I think Jesus weeps at the sight of so many of His children consigned to spiritual ghettos. It's about to get real! Keep writing! Speak those things!

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  10. You're absolutely right to point out that sometimes the divide is self imposed. When we see only 1 speaker of color or media that doesn't include a diverse image of the body of Christ we assume we aren't invited. We then strike out on our own and create the "The Others" club. Thats cool and all and may serve a purpose in the world ..but not in Christ. The division has to stop. I really want to meet you Alison. You're a wise woman.

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  11. Y'all Chelle prayed with me over this post - so shout out to our sister for holding it down in the spirit. All day I've had this phrase running through my head..."do the dirty work of diversity". God has called me to this community..guess it's time to roll up our sleeves and dig in...palms open..unafraid. Love you for being my person on this one.

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  12. Lisha,
    It is wonderful to read your words here...I can relate on several counts in your honest and tender words...seeking God with you, my friend :) Thanks, Nacole, for hosting Lisha.

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  13. Ashley Tolins LarkinApril 3, 2014 at 5:05 PM

    I love you and am honored to walk this journey with you. Thank you for being you so unabashedly, shining so gloriously. This right here: "I can’t sit back and let this wave of goodness wash over without engaging in the beauty of its baptism. I should be in the water. I can show you what it looks like to believe because faith taught me to swim." -- Oh sister, how you hit my heart. Praying with you. Walking with you.

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  14. Ashley Tolins LarkinApril 3, 2014 at 5:05 PM

    And swimming, too. (Thank you, Nacole, for hosting Lisha and her words today.)

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  15. Ro, I absolutely love everything about this comment. You *are* so needed. I look up to you, admire you. We all need one another--I love the way you said that. Much love. xo.

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  16. Thank you for joining in the discussion, Lori. I sure would hate for it to be only *crickets* around here after such a vulnerable, tender post. I am so proud of Lisha's bravery.

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  17. Thank you so much for being here, Michelle. She does tell it with beauty and grace, doesn't she? That's what I kept thinking.

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  18. Lisha, you make me blush. (((Beautiful you)))... You *are* at home here, know that. Thank you so much for honoring this little place with such brave, God-breathed words. It feels like some of the ache and pain has lifted from my shoulders, in this authenticity and connecting. I love the beauty of this sisterhood and I love the treasure that is your beautiful heart.

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  19. Yes, Alison, we won't make it without authenticity--YES! Aren't those words powerful?! I absolutely love this comment. I am frustrated by the walls, too. "It's about to get real!" Yes.

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  20. Chelle, wow. I feel kindred by the words you write here. Halleluyer! Love the way you say that. Yes, those truths weren't taken well, then were they? And now, it's no different. I am glad Lisha is one who is willing. So thankful. My heart is full today.

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  21. Thank you so much for being here amongst the discussion, Dolly. As always, you are so gracious.

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  22. Ashley, yes! I loved that paragraph too! Beautiful imagery and bold declaration of faith and confidence. Love it. And, thank you for your graciousness --and in reply, I'd like to say it was my honor to have her here today, and to have all of the loving comments left by y'all here for her. I love you, friend. xo.

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  23. When I went to bed last night I didn't know how this day would end. The truth is even with prayer I thought I might lose all my friends, hurt someone's feelings. LOVE is my theme. Always will be. Your support here is a gift Ashley. I receive it.

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  24. I don't pretend it isn't an uphill battle...all this truth telling and words and hearts poured out... but I'm beyond encouraged. I know God will have his way. Love wins. Every. Time.

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  25. Nacole,
    hello, sis. If Lisha loves you, you are my tribe. We should be connected, right? We're already family.
    I love your words and the heart from which they spring.
    Blessings upon you, and those you love, in Jesus' name.
    Peace

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  26. Love it!! For us over forty crowd. You give me encouragement.

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  27. We've got good stuff in us friend. God wants to use it. He pours for a purpose and its up to us to stay out there and not do the middle aged disappearing act. So happy you've found encouragement. Let's do the brave thing and keep growing.

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  28. LISHA! Wowzer, girl! THIS. Just this. Holy work, right here. You carry a voice that we need to cultivate. We NEED to cultivate. I'm so incredibly blessed to be under your tent. I'm so blessed to learn from the heart cry of your heart and the roar of His spirit within you. I'm so blessed to have my eyes open.

    (And, writing in the spirit is my thing, too. It grows our capacity to trust and keeps Him as the center, through and through. I'm with you and praying you keep on. Amen.)

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  29. Dear Lisha...I thoroughly enjoyed your guest-post here. Love what you had to say and so glad you summoned the courage to say it! I receive other blogs from "people of colour" in my inbox, so I am familiar with the voices who raise this issue. "Others will know we are Christians by our love", is all I keep thinking. Unity in the Body, no differences, all the True Church--THAT'S what we're 'supposed' to be. I hear you. I love YOUR voice. I encourage you to press on. And may God bless and prosper your message.

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  30. Jillie ...so simple right. We have to do better. This string of comments encourages me. I BELEIVE fully in the hearts of women who say YES to change. It's already happening.

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  31. Amy and I met inrl y'all. She came to NYC and we ate huge chocolate chip cookies together. I'm all about posting pictures on FB but didn't take any photos of us.that day. It didn't feel right. Everything was just happening and we were connecting and doing the holy work of being together. I'm so glad we've connected Amy..you have a light and voice..a heart that screams loud for Jesus. So excited for all God is doing in your life and blessed to walk with you. Amen and amen and amen.

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  32. Hi Lisha. It's an honour and privilege to meet with you on this hallowed ground gathering at Nacole's place. Your words and the expression of them are pure beauty. New blogger? Not in God's or anyone else's eyes. You write soul deep, heart hopeful, rock steady glued to God's grace and wrapped up in His wisdom. These things take years of developing and we're seeing the fruit here.
    As an over 50 (gulp!! ~ did I just confess that?) blogger who is pretty new to the online community too, it has been a roller-coaster ride with thrills, spills and great dips. But I gain energy and inspiration from the younger ones, learn so much from all I read, and dearly hope to have some God-given insight of my own to impart.
    In writing out spirit, we crave nothing less than to magnify God's name and be faithful listeners of the holy words as He whispers them close and gentles us forward. And we crave to be in community where we are welcomed and accepted for who we are. Keep on speaking out. You're not a wilderness volce. You are the brave and free and we salute you, friend! Blessings to you and Nacole for this lovely offering. :) x

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  33. So now I want to gather with all of you and just hug it out because what we have here is so beautiful. I'm delighted to meet you Joy! I love this...."gentles us forward". This expresses my hope for the future...that heart change would be gentle and complete. Compelling us into His "right now" promise of love and grace for all.

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  34. Pretty cool huh...

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