One of my favorite parts of being a writer is cheerleading other writers. This past year, it was an honor to support Justin, Emmy, Angela and Meta, four pastors I deeply admire, on their writing journey from half baked idea to pristine print. I’m thrilled to see these four books out in the world interacting with readers.
Is That Poop on My Arm? is a touching and poignant narrative that successfully captures the beautiful mess that is parenting in faith. Justin Lind-Ayers seamlessly flows from parent to pastor, from prophet to student and always writes as an honest, vulnerable and wise child of God. The chapters expertly and accessibly address themes from life and death, Cheerios and the Tooth Fairy, stewardship and communion through the lens of precious childhood innocence. Is That Poop on My Arm? reminds us that our children are capable of preaching, teaching and making our church better. They are, in fact, raising us. It is a gift to have faith like a child. Lind-Ayres generously shares moments of deep intimacy with his children as they explore love, loss, giving and belonging. He tells stories that are tender and true, oozing the good news of our Gospel in ways both simple and profound. We get a front row seat to moments between parent and child of blessing and being blessed, and in so doing, this book truly blesses us.
Put the Bible in the hands of a hyper-intelligent woman, a lover of stories, a vivacious reader and a queer human who lives with depression, anxiety and perfectionism. Then listen. Listen closely to her and to what she sees, what she lives, and what she has to say. One Coin Found is a priceless gem. It is poetic, honest and oh so rich. Emmy Kegler reminds us of the necessity of impossibility when it comes to the God whose love is seeking us.
With the 2020 Presidential campaign on the horizon, Red State Christians is an insightful and timely read. Angela Denker aptly uses her skills as both pastor and journalist to navigate the complex and layered landscape of Christian America. A corrective to easy answers and growing polarization, Red State Christians works to dissolve lazy stigmas while calling us all to be better. Denker is totally unafraid, taking on issues like immigration and abortion in our churches in a way that validates complexity and shows how binaries don’t hold up. Not surprisingly, she shows how being a Christian who voted for Trump looks different in Appalachia and Orange County, for men and women, for Southern Baptists and Catholics, for baby boomers and millennials. And maybe most importantly, this book reminds us how God’s grace squeezes through walls.
Ordinary Blessings is a gift. Meta Herrick Carlson reminds us that there is actually no inch of our lives untouched by God. God is breathing in the sacred ordinary of folding laundry, paying bills and waiting for the bus. God is in the messy miracles of parenting, partnering, and peacemaking. God’s love and beauty cannot be contained or quarantined into church buildings. It spills, lapses, gushes into the nooks and crannies of our everyday lives. Meta shines a light into the dusty corners and cluttered drawers and writes in a way that we cannot see God’s presence as anything other than good news. With these blessings, we are made new. We walk through our days taller, more filled with the truth of God’s audacious and insatiable love. Ordinary Blessings whispers to us in our hiding, in our fatigue, in our arrogance, “Try again. You are enough. You are not alone. You are not finished yet. Take up space. Remember the fullness of who you are.” She invites us to dance and say no and live our truth. To turn on the music and make a mess. To love one another as daily acts of resistance. Turns out there is grace in fort blankets and cool wind and blood. So much blessing bursting from such a little book.