Motherhood

A Little Louder (For those in the back)

It’s been ten days and I’m still reeling. I thought I was going to small group. It’s what I do almost every Tuesday night. It’s what I’ve done and where I’ve gone for almost ten years now. But as I stood, waiting patiently in our kitchen while Eric stalled, I found myself irritated. There are certain things I don’t mind being late for- instances that don’t depend on me bringing food, for one, but when our presence makes up for one fifth or sometimes a quarter of the group, it’s important for me to be on time. Why wasn’t he getting this? It took a few minutes of us driving for me to unroll my eyes and let out my breath. I pride myself on not being a wench and I wasn’t going to start then.

Before we arrived, Eric was talking about a particular text book situation with one of the classes he teaches and that became a decent enough distraction from noticing how late we were. Nothing seemed off until we walked in and the hostess was recording me on her iPhone as I walked up her split level stair case. There were a few others peering over the railing, some gathered next to the kitchen table and others lining the hallway. Then I heard someone yell, “surprise”, but I still didn’t understand.

What am I not getting here?

And as I neared the top of the stairs, it wasn’t just our small group there. Before me and around me stood community. Participants in the story. Mom friends. Church friends. Mentors. The kitchen counters and bar were covered with gluten free foods. A poster of the book cover decorated the living room. Sweet candles, gorgeous flowers and smiles warmed the space. They all came together for a surprise book launch party. For me. And everything, in every minute of that time, was completely humbling and overwhelming and wonderful.

The ladies of the evening (minus a few)
Whiskey and the book (Thanks Tid)

Whether or not you follow Christian headlines, you may have heard the contentious comments by pastor and author, John MacArthur aimed at fellow teacher and author, Beth Moore. (Click here to read https://www.christianheadlines.com/blog/john-macarthur-says-beth-moore-should-go-home.html ). I first caught wind of it through a powerhouse female author whose books I’ve read and who I also follow on Instagram. Though I disagree with some of her posts, when I read about MacArthur, I had to follow it up with research to hear what he really said and what the context was. I was just about to mow the lawns so I clicked the link, turned up my phone’s volume and listened to the panel recording from this particular conference held last month. I walked and pushed and listened until I had to stop. I’d turn off the mower, rewind and just stand there in my shock. I couldn’t believe his words or the ignorant applause of those in the room with him. It felt evil. His comments and opinions became character bashing and in my opinion, showcased his ignorance.

After the lengthy and agitated lawn mowing, it was like I was Meg Ryan in the iconic scene of her air punching as she geared up with the press to combat big, bad Fox Books in You’ve Got Mail. That was me. Air punching at every blasted word from MacArthur and his fellow patrons of idiocracy. Later that night I called my dad because he can re-ground me like it’s his super power. Why is it that we can entrust women to be teachers and doctors and lawyers, educating our world with truths about science, history, math and concept development (amongst a thousand other things), but there is debate about whether women are qualified to teach the Bible? Did you know that in 2016, 89% of the elementary teachers in the US were women (https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_clr.asp), and 64% of women made up the secondary teacher stat.

After an hour or more brainstorming and agreeing on the crazy notion that indeed, women are qualified to teach and preach and have a voice, we said our I love you’s and hung up. It’s been about three weeks since I heard that recording and I’m just now able to put words to a response. I’ve debated whether or not my response even matters in the wild world of opinion. Often times wisdom is self-control in silence. But sometimes, wisdom is the come back.

I talk about her in my book. She’s the Samaritan woman at the well (read John 4). A woman who Jesus greets as He stops to rest along His journey. He’s there for water, but He’s also there for her. In their banter about the well and living water and how He knows of her unfaithfulness, Jesus reveals to her who He is. He didn’t do it through one of His disciples, though He had many. He didn’t first tell her to enroll and educate herself through the wisdom and doctrines of others, then test on it and write a well-established thesis for approval. Jesus, in the fullness of who He was, made Himself known to her. And for what? Was it so that she could remain silent about it? No, no. He knew better than that. When the woman returns to town, it was said that many of the Samaritans there believed in Him because of her testimony. Hers. Her testimony about what Jesus knew of her and what He did there at the well, qualified her. It wasn’t a seminary degree. It wasn’t her gender, though being a female went against the cultural norm of that time so put that in your pipe. It was the revelation that Jesus is who He is said to be and He revealed that truth to her. His truth alone qualified her. And that’s what qualifies Beth and that’s what qualifies me and you, regardless of status. Regardless of gender. Regardless. It’s the very testimony of what God has done in our lives that draws others to know Him.

For weeks I prayed over the words to settle. For wisdom and not anger, and oh man, was I angry. I was angry that a group of men shunned the teaching and character and ability of a woman because, from where I stood, they were fearful of her status over their own. Had it been another man, I would feel the same way. It’s not just because they attacked Mrs. Moore, it’s because they prided themselves in distinguishing who gets to stand before others with the value of teaching. It looked like jealousy, like envy. And it read as sin that they were being applauded for and there was a split second when it made me want to be silent. I thought that was where the wisdom was, in my silence. In my decision to step out of their conversation. But I was on my way home one evening and heard Raise A Hallelujah by Bethel Music and was caught in the lyric, “Sing a little louder”. That lyric was repeated nine times and it was like I sat there in the drivers seat with Jesus as He ended the battle for me, again. We don’t have time for that. Sing it loud, girl.

And then it was like I was back at my kitchen table, writing the book. It was time. It was time to say the things. The hard things, the true things, the sad things, the funny things. Freedom looked different that day and the days ahead. It looks different even now, now that the story is out. Now that people know and see and share their own stories. And it wasn’t because I was acknowledged and approved by man. It was because there was a story to tell and it was time to come out of the silence.

Walking in to the surprise book launch party for The ‘A’ Words, I was flooded with emotion (when I finally realized what I was there for). I had run 4 miles earlier, made the girls dinner and didn’t have time to shower or change. I was salty and in my Reebok running pants, hair a mess, but none of that seemed to matter. We gathered for the celebration. We gathered because in all of the mess of my story, God’s goodness was over it all. None of us, prior to this, had been to a book launch party so we created our own flow and “oh for sure this is what happens at a launch party” moments, like taking a shot of whiskey and then reading Chapter One aloud. I also think I cried at eight different points through the evening. My favorite part of the evening was this- as we sat, gathered in the living room on couches and chairs and stools, I looked around and noticed that each person there played a significant role in how the story played out and how this book came to be. To my left sat Claire, or that’s how I name her in the book. Had it not been for meeting her, the blog post would not have reached her friend who then cancelled her abortion. To my right sat the cover illustrator who worked and researched tirelessly to get the images that sat before us. And next to her was her husband, an Army veteran who gave me the extra push to include the chapter about PTSD. Across from me sat mentors and friends and editors and it was like my whole self was absorbed in gratefulness.

It started with a story. In the days that followed, I could hardly talk about the launch party without crying. I still couldn’t believe that they all gathered to celebrate with me. Friends, where have we complicated this? When did we decide that teaching and sharing our stories of who God is and how He reveals Himself to us, only matters if we are qualified under the conditions of gender, education, social acceptance, or _______ ? Sisters and brothers, sing it loud. If Beth can stand before a mocking crowd with her confidence and grace to continue her pursuit of teaching; if a Samaritan woman had the ability to bring her story and what God revealed to her, and in that led others to know Him; if God can use me and my story to bring freedom and life, what can He do with yours?

Sing a little louder today, my friends.

xo

{Enjoy some of the photos from the evening.}

Veteran & Illustrator … power couple
Mentors. Friends. All the things with these people.
Matchy Matchy
Co-worker turned great friend because that one night where we shared our whole life stories after only knowing each other for a few weeks.
My Main Squeeze

Click here to listen to Raise A Hallelujah: https://open.spotify.com/track/2FRLGfPXCg5XVewvYRfr2Q?autoplay=true&v=T

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