To be real…

I seem to be on a roll these days. For those of you that do not live in Illinois (congratulations…seriously), you may not know that we are the only state in the Union that has no budget, and has not had one for over a year now. Yesterday, in the face of K-12 schools possibly not opening on time, and our credit rating being lowered to the point that residents would have difficulty getting loans, our state government passed a stopgap spending bill to fund schools and other critical services through December.

Congratulations to us – we are now a mirror image of our federal government.

In the midst of this, I fired off in rapid succession emails to our governor and the Speaker of the House (who will henceforth be called The Godfather on this blog) urging them to get to work on a real, live budget. Not this fake “stopgap” stuff. I’ve hit critical mass and it is all spilling out.

This, in addition to the rather cathartic rant I have had about women in ministry, has made this week a banner week for me!

Welcome to my inner world. I understand if you need counseling after your trip…

Seriously, though…that “mojo” I felt was severely lacking seems to be returning, and now I can’t seem to type fast enough to keep up with my thoughts. This can be good and bad – last night I only got about 3 hours sleep because I couldn’t turn off my brain. I amazed I am functional right now. So if this post doesn’t make any earthly sense, you now know why…

As I mentioned in my quick post earlier today, I am in the process of moving my blog over to WordPress. Back in the day, Blogger was the cat’s meow when it came to blogging. Lately, I have found myself underwhelmed, and looking on in envy at all these WordPress bloggers that look like rock stars. So, I am finding my way back, transferring my domain and post archive. Hope all goes well. I apologize in advance for any weirdness that may ensue.

With this change, comes yet another one. Can you keep up? Because I can’t! But I feel my vision for this blog morphing almost on a daily basis. At first I wanted to build a site to encourage women as we navigate all the false messages we are fed by both culture and the church. And there is plenty of material for that topic, let me tell ya! Then it became a site to encourage all of us to the same. This theme of wholeness has stayed consistent throughout. But my main struggle has been this: How do I encourage others to wholeness when I myself feel utterly broken most of the time?

The term shalom is usually associated with peace. But that is only part of the meaning of the term. Along with the concept of peace, shalom also signifies completeness, safety, soundness. Shalom is present when circumstances are without defect, when literally all is well. We are whole and complete in Christ. He is our peace. Our lives progressively display this wholeness as we draw closer to Him. But we do not arrive at complete shalom in this lifetime.

I so wish I could provide a pathway to wholeness, but since I have yet to find it myself, all I can do is provide you with a partner during the journey. Part of that journey is encouragement for sure, but not the type I first thought. I do not wish to present a prepackaged, branded and market-ready image of a woman who has it all together, who only has fabulous blog ready life story example experiences to show how to be whole. I also do not wish to invite us to wallow in our stuff and attend each other’s pity parties. I want real, honest, authentic and true. I want the kind of stuff we read in the Psalms – raw emotion, lament, praise, petition, and the occasional calling down of wrath (although I would like to keep that last one at a minimum). Most of all, I want all of this to be drenched in the blessed hope we have in our Lord, that even in the real and sometimes ugly stuff of life, that hope does not and cannot disappoint.

I can intellectualize all day long. I can theorize and pontificate – and use big words that make me feel really smart. But I want to sit in the spot where the rubber meets the road – where our theoretical theology hits actual real life and see what happens. It’s messy and unpredictable. But it’s real.

I want to be real.

So, in that spirit, I openly share my own journey as I seek to hear God’s voice for this blog. Hence the subtle, but important change to the title. And this longish blog post.

I’ll stop there for today. More to come…stay tuned!

Grace and peace…

 

Why E2W?

Encourage to Wholeness. Or, simply, E2W – I kind of like that!

Welcome to the new, new relaunch of the relaunch of my blog. I have launched and relaunched my blog so many times, I’ve officially lost count!

I really had no intention of relaunching this blog, at least not right now. For the longest time, I would open my journal or a blank Word document and just stare at the screen…nothing would happen. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to say. There are many things I could write about – I have lots of opinions about a lot of things! On occasion I’m actually right about something…but committing those things to paper, or sharing them in a blog? Not me. Not at this stage in life.  
The idea came suddenly, faster than I could write it down, and it started with one simple word: Encouragement.

I desire to give women a source of encouragement and truth. A place of refuge where they know it is safe to pour their hearts out to the Lord. I seek to affirm the humanity of women in the face of a culture that increasingly seeks to dehumanize us. And when I say culture, I am not just talking about the culture “out there”. Even the culture within the church can be dehumanizing to women at times. 
I am not seeking to argue for or against women in ministry leadership. I do not wish to debate the theological strength of complementarianism or egalitarianism except to argue that these are unhelpful categories for addressing many of the needs of women. I also do not desire to have debates on my blog about these issues. The primary reason: I have yet to “land” on one side or another, and quite frankly, I’m in no great hurry to do so. I do not see this issue as a “gospel” issue, as in “this is what you must believe in order to be wise unto salvation”. Secondly, this rabbit trail will detract from my primary purpose. There are other ministries and blogs that are dedicated to such reflection; as this site grows, I will share them so we can all be Bereans and seek out truth in light of Scripture. 
My reasons for writing are simpler than that, but not simplistic. I long to see women grow in their knowledge of the Lord. As we know God better, we know ourselves better. And the process to wholeness begins. 
These last few years have been characterized by great upheaval and transition. Loss and discovery. Mourning and comfort. Anger and joy. Turmoil and peace. A wide range of emotion, from the highest high to the lowest low, and everything in between. The Lord has challenged me, pushed me, confronted me, moved me…forgiven me, comforted me, restored me. Encouraged me. Through His presence in my life, the presence of other believers, and well placed messaged that seem to come “out of nowhere” in books, or podcasts, etc., He has been drawing me in and removing things that should not be there. 
I can’t imagine I’m the only one that has gone through such experiences. And since I know God wastes nothing, I am surer than sure that I have gone through these things for the blessing and benefit of others. Perhaps you are going through such a journey right now. If so, this just might be the place for you. I seek to encourage to wholeness. It’s not that I’ve already made it to complete wholeness. That won’t happen in this lifetime. I make incremental steps toward wholeness as I grow closer to the Lord. If I wait until I reach perfection, I will never start. 
It’s time to start. 
As we move along, I will share more of this vision, and we can figure out – together – what wholeness looks like. What good, godly encouragement looks like. What walking with the Lord can be. 
So, let’s go!