Stretching Your Thoughts

As we continue to explore the journey of Lent, I can’t help but think about how this particular liturgical season has defined my own spiritual growth. It is through that growth that my views on my place and my role in the Church have completely transformed. Today, I bring you an offering of some of the authors and writings that have paved those steps. Warning: There is no author with which I 100% agree. As a matter of fact, I enjoy a good read that challenges my beliefs – one that makes me say ‘do I really believe that?’ One that makes me want to sit down and have a long chat with the author because I can’t see where they are coming from.

With that in mind, please know that not every sentence and directive in these books comes from my own frame of reference. Rather these are authors and believers that have shaped critical thinking within my own life and therefore have helped define what my faith looks like today. Unapologetically, my library has a generous wealth of female voices. I am grateful for these women of faith that are on the forefront of my growth and wholeness.

I would not call myself a reader until about the age of 30. Up to that point in my life, I could have cared less about reading, much less reading non-fiction. It was only because I had heard this guy Rob Bell speak at a conference that I picked up his creatively named first book. But something happened when I picked up those pages. The words came alive in a way that my faith needed. I realized that I longed for the written word to help me understand the shift that was going on internally. You’ve heard me talk about Rob before in my blog, but Velvet Elvis was the starting place. You can read Velvet Elvis in a few hours. It is easy to read but there is so much to digest. More than anything, it was an opportunity for me to know that I was not the only one that thought these things, felt this way or asked these questions. That was a gift. A close second to Velvet Elvis was a book by author Brian McLaren. A Generous Orthodoxy help me go deeper in my thought process – examining my own theology. A Generous Orthodoxy helped me define my theology as one that was open to growth and new discovery. I haven’t touched this book in years, and yet I can still remember the words as they leapt off the page.

After I spent some time trying to discern my own understanding of faith and whether I wanted anything to do with it anymore, I took a good, long hard look at the Church. This still continues today. The most profound Church journey book I have read to-date is Rachel Held Evans’ Searching For Sunday. I was standing in line to have my copy of this book signed at a conference recently when I got to visit with a young woman who was exactly where I had been in years past. As we stood for 30 minutes or so, I realized I didn’t need my copy of Searching for Sunday anymore because that book was imprinted in my heart. I gave my copy, instead, to this new friend trusting that perhaps through reading my tear-stained pages, she too would realize there was a place for her in the Church. If you have felt un-included, if you have felt like the church of your childhood doesn’t fit, if you have felt like there was no relevancy in the institution of the Church, Searching for Sunday should be at the top of your reading list.

Here are a few more quick MUST READS by topic:

Messy Faith and Doubt: Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning, Accidental Saints by Nadia Bolz-Weber, Carry on Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton,

Women and Faith: A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband ‘Master’ by Rachel Held Evans, Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women by Sarah Bessey

Sexuality: Sex God by Rob Bell (I especially recommend this one for those that need a new lens for hurts and hangups in their own story), Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free by Linda Kay Klein (tough, tough read because of the truth in the pages), Shameless: A Sexual Reformation by Nadia Bolz-Weber (get ready…this one is wonderfully challenging)

There are many authors that have joined my journey and even more that I missed and have picked up years later. This is just a smattering of some of my favorites. I do, however, have multiple copies of many of these books and I will gladly buy anyone that is interested a copy of your book of choice and a cup of coffee if you want to discuss. These are my favorite things: faith, doubt, Church, Jesus, messy, belonging. We need each other and the journey of discovery that comes from allowing the quiet musings of our own thoughts to be affirmed in the pages and lives of others. Let’s do this together.

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