Author: accidental devotional

I live and work and love in the city of Atlanta. I am trying hard to follow God as a mother, teacher, wife, speaker and writer. Sometimes, there are moments when I get it right. And when I don't God's grace is sufficient.

Scarcity In the Shower

Awhile ago I declared myself the scarcity hunter.

That feeling that there is not enough, that you better hurry up and get yours because whatever it is you are after is going to run out? The idea that if someone else gets it then you can’t have it to? Yeah. Scarcity is her name and I hate her.

I hate scarcity, and I had been working hard to build barriers in my life to keep the scarcity from getting in. But it wasn’t working. It wasn’t good enough. Plus, the scarcity barriers could only keep the scarcity from bothering me and maybe my girls, and I just hate scarcity so much more than that. I am not okay with letting scarcity snatch the abundance of life from anyone. I needed to go on the offensive.

So I did. I declared myself the scarcity hunter and asked anyone who wanted, to join me. I am a pack animal by nature (my spirit animal is a labrador retriever), so of course I hunt in a pack. But scarcity went on the offensive too. And this time, she caught me alone.

You can read the rest here. And if you haven’t signed up for my scarcity hunter emails you can here. New one comes out on Monday!

Because you deserve to Be Seen


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I have a friend we have started calling The Beauty Queen. At not quite 5 feet tall I don’t think Nicole Romero ever expected to wear that title. But she is, a beauty queen. The Beauty Queen in my book. But it isn’t what you are thinking. Nicole is like the queen of a kingdom where she is constanly inviting everyone to come and take their place. 

Nicole was leading a session on beauty at a retreat in Austin. She was tucked into a chair when she said something that simultaneously sucked all the air out of the room and let us all breathe easier.

“You don’t owe anyone you looking a certain way in order to be see and heard. You simply deserve to be seen and heard.”

You would think that a group of women who choose to publish their opinions on the internet would not need to be told that they deserve to be heard, women who regularly publish selfies would not think of it as news that they deserve to be seen. But we were all sitting their dumb struck at the truth. We don’t owe anyone a certain kind of look before we are taken seriously. We don’t need to ask forgiveness for taking up space.

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I’ve been thinking about my brand a lot lately. I guess that is sort of a dirty internet word, but all it has meant for me is thinking about what I love and what makes me get all shouty and excited. What is it that I love about writng, about learning, about life?

I love when the physical meets the thoughtful. When the spiritual meets the natural. I tattooed the truth onto myself and the embodiment of it has been very real to me. I think anger breaks more easily when we break a bottle or to. I am sure that lies have less of a hold when we physically burn them.

If I really believed that I didn’t owe anyone any particualr experience, what would that mean in my practical space? It means I would wear lipstick whenever I wanted.

 It means I would wear lipstick whenever I wanted. 

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I like lipstick. The brighter the better. Love that red. Wild Orchid. Purty Persimmon. Fuschia Fusion. But I save it for special occasions. For weddings and the first day of school, for days when I have time to do my hair or moments when someone has invited me to speak up. I wear bold lipstick at the times I know I deserve to be seen.

But what if I believed I deserved to be seen all the times I wanted to be seen?

Lipstick to the grocery store. Lipstick at the coffee shop. For sure lipstick in my yoga pants. Maybe I would wear lipstick today, when my eyes are tired and my children misbehaving. Maybe I would wear it on the beach, when my suit is ten pounds tighter than it was last summer. Maybe if I wore lipstick more often I would be reminded that it is my humanity that makes me worthy of being seen. Not an invitation or a special event. If I really don’t owe anyone a certain look before I deserve to be seen I would wear lipstick whenever I wanted.

I think I will start today.

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If you would like to join me head on over to instagram and make sure to tag your post #BeSeen plus some other popular lipstick tags like #redlips or #lipstick. If you don’t have an instagram email your photo to my amazing friend Jennifer who has been teaching me about the holiness in seeing, in seeing yourself through your own lens. She will put it up for you (!


I am pleased to announce I have a new gig. I am in charge of the content on the Story Sessions blog. The women in Story sessions are hugely talented and the team I have to help me is incredible. Here is my first introduction to our month. Check out the rest of the posts there. They are wonderful. 

A few months ago I was asked to really look at my core values. I was given a list and before I could even look at the first five there was one that jumped off the page and attached itself to my heart.


Of all the complicated and intricate words on that page, fun was the one that I knew was mine. I couldn’t deny it, I didn’t even try. Fun was exactly what I wanted. 

I shouldn’t have been surprised. I have made my lesson plans at school fun, I sometimes eat on the living room floor with my girls simply because it is fun, my courtship with my husband revolves around fun times, fun songs, giggling. The fastest way to convince me to do something, is to convince me it is going to be fun. 

Suddenly I had permission to let my fun flag fly. If fun is on the value list, then it is an acceptable value to have. 

I’ve been having a lot of fun lately. I do things just because they make me giggle. I dance with my girls in the kitchen. I go to the pool every day because I can, because it is fun. 

Recently, at a retreat, I suggested to someone that we take some hair chalk and streak her hair turquoise. Just because it is fun. A midst the giggles and the hair separating, something seemed to unlock in both of us. She walked out of the bathroom standing just a little bit taller, a giant grin on her face. I came out knowing we had done something important. 

You can read the rest here.

It’s All Messier Than We Want It to Be

I picked my word over a year ago. Like a lot of people say, it kind of picked me. be here. Be here now. Be present, and hear. I was working on my schedule for the semester when out of nowhere I wrote on the top of january’s page: It’s always messier than we want it to be.

It’s always messier than we want it to be

I’m a black and white thinker. I don’t know if it is deeply wired in me via genetics or parental guidanc, but I just think that something is either right or it is wrong. I am trying hard to grow out of the idea that people are either good or bad. 

I am mostly trying to believe that last part about me. 

Good people sometimes do bad thing Bad people sometimes do good things. Mostly we are (as my dear friend Nicole says) we are just toddlers, trying our best, but lashing out, pulling each other’s hair, hitting people we love. We are stumbling, confused, wonderful, inspired, and just plain messy.

This life is messy. Being a person is messy. And being a person in relationship with other people is beautiful, and messy.

It is all so much messier than I want it to be. 

I’m a pack animal. You’ve heard me say it before. I am. I like to do life with people. So inevitably, I dissapoint people, and people dissapoint me. Mostly, we do this, when we put each other on pedestals. It just hurts everyone a little bit more when we fall from those unnatural heights. Sometimes I put people on them, sometimes I climb right up there myself, and sometimes, sometimes I fall off a pedestal I had no idea I was even on. 

I wonder how many times I have done that to people. Made them a little less human, a little more perfect, so that they more easily fit into the ideas I am still clingy too about the simplicity of this world.They break you know, the statues you put on pedestals. The real people inside the china-doll casing tip themselves right over the edge. Your idea of them is shattered, they walk away bruised, everyone gets hurt.

It is always messier than I want it to be.

I have already dissapointed my two-year-old, more than once I am afraid. This time,  I painted my toe nails blue. She preffered the red-orange color I had been sporting for a month or so. After a distinct minute of consideration, she decided to “do my piggies” anyway, even if they were the wrong color. 

This piggy went to market. This little piggy had ROAF BEEF! This piggy went wee wee wee, all the way home. 

Afterward she asks me, again, why my “poes are blue.” She lets me know (again) that she likes them red. Almost a month is a long time for a two-year-old. I wonder how long it will take for her to adjust. Knowing Priscilla, she may never get used to it. What feels like a personal afront to her, was just something I felt it was desperately time for. 

One person’s, it was just time for a change, is someone else’s why would you do that. One person’s, I may have spoken too harshly is another’s I wonder if I’ll ever recover. One person can drop something carelessly and watch as someone else gets impaled by it. 

It is always messier than I want it to be.


When I wonder if we aren’t taking pictures of the wrong things

I went to the tenth anniversary of my church a couple of months ago. There were speakers,and a slide show of everything you would expect to see. Baby dedications, Easter services, Christmas Eve and baptisms all streaming happily onto the front screen as we ate dinner. It was nice to see my smiling face at the first retreat I ever attended. It was good to see the preaching pictured, and the worship songs sung. But I was sad there were no picture of people crashing on our pastors black couches.

When we were new to the city, and Christian had to leave every weekend to coach his speech team. Before babies and a house of our own, I used to get desperately lonely on the weekends. But I had a tiny almost three-legged dog to take care of. I’m not quite sure how it happened, but enough that it was a semi-regular occurrence. Me and my funny little dog would sleep over at my pastor’s house. Because I was lonely and they knew I needed people.

I think I’m the only one to have slept there with my dog, but I am not the only one to have slept on those couches. People who worked late in the city, but lived in the suburbs, would sometimes crash their after a midnight shift. There were at least two different halves of various married couples that slept there for a week or two while still engaged but in between leases. Someone slept there for a month while she house hunted, I think.

But we didn’t have any pictures of those magical black couches in the slide show. Because we take pictures of the big things, the baby dedications, the weddings, the special services. But we don’t take pictures of the little things that pile into the big things. The crashing on couches, the shared meals, the welcoming of a lonely lady just moved to the city and her funny little dog.

I love the pomp and circumstance. I think the big days are important. But I know to not neglect the every day. I love all the pictures my family has of christmas eve, of easter, of dance recitals and prom. But can I tell you that the best-loved I ever felt was when my mom would come home from her night class with a TCBY ice cream sandwich for me? When my dad made popcorn in the giant bowl, when we went to the video store and my dad let us rent A League of Their Own…..again. When my mom would read from a chapter book just out of our reading reach, just me and her.

I don’t want to de-value the important days, but I wonder if we might be taking pictures of the wrong things. When we look through the scrapbook of our lives, I hope those moments are there on the page, not just in our hearts.

Community: A story in 6 parts


It is a strange thing the way ordinary words become hot and sell-able. I suppose it would make more sense if I was talking about t-shirts and new cars, about blow-out sales and low low prices. But I’m not. I am talking about the church. The way we co-opt words and repackage old concepts into new books with smiling authors on the back. I joke often that my parents were missional before Francis Chan had a name for it. Back then they were evangelizing, before that their parents were just being good Christian’s. Now we call being good to our neighbor’s “missional living” and we talk about community in all of its forms.

We are a community, we are in a community, we do community, we have community. we need community, we look for community, we find community. We are in community groups and participate in community initiatives. We pretend that this is some sort of new focus as we plant our churches next to 80-year-old places with community in the name. We have neglected these places, written them off because they “don’t have the same values as us.”


I think a lot of people want to have community, but they don’t want to be the community. By a lot of people I mean often times, me.


My mom tells a story about me that I have probably already repeated here. We were at Girl Scout camp, discussing what it means to be a sister to every girl scout. She asked a group of first grade girls what the word sister meant. Having two older ones I was a bit of an expert on the matter. The story goes that I shot my hand in the air and announced. Sister means you are STUCK with each other so you may as well make the best of it. I don’t think it is an accident we are described as sisters and brothers in Christ.


I spent a glorious four days in the foothills of Austin with a group of women I call story sisters. There are over 100 of us now, only a small contingent showed up at our in-person retreat. I led a session where we broke bottles, yelled into the hills, burned our lies. I pray that those lies remain ashes as the brave women go on to lead their beautiful and mess-filled lives. I am We are a community, an artist community still in the early years. I don’t think it is an accident we call each other “story sister.” Every day we choose to be stuck with each other.


I spent a perfect three days in the Tennessee mountains. It was a speech team reunion. We all not only chose to be stuck with each other, but chose to depend on each other, to create with each other, to win and lose with each other. This all while we were between the ages of 18-22. Not the best for decision-making. There were days when we hated each other, but what were we going to do? We were on the same team.

I wanted to hop in a time machine, and have a little chat with my 19-year-old self. I wanted to tell her some things about these people she loved, and drove crazy, and was driven crazy by.

I know this part is hard. But these people, they really see you, especially at your worst, and they still think you are pretty great. You only have four years with them. And then you will all move away, get married (some of you to each other), have kids, and when you re-connect eight years later all the bad will have melted away, but all the good will still be there.

And suddenly you are sitting at the foot of a bed in the middle of the Smokey Mountains, as your husband’s old roommate explores a children’s book with your three girls (two belonging to your family, one to his).

“Which hat is your favorite hat?’

“Why do you think that bird is despondent?”

“What do you think scarlet means?”

His desire to explore every facet of everything that interested him made you absolutely crazy sometimes at eighteen. The conversations would never end, he would beat entire video games before anyone else could. (You never really cared that much about this, but it made the ginger-headed boy you were dating totally furious.)

But now? Now you can see how valuable this thing that you used to try to wish away is. All three daughters are completely engaged. What does that mean? What will happen next? How does that work? What a gifted dad he is, partly because he is interested in exploring every facet of a thing.

I want to tell my twenty-year-old self that we are all so much better at thirty. I hope my forty-year-old self has the same good news.

#Yesallwomen, So what do I tell my girls?

This post is in response to the yes all women hashtag. It has taken me awhile to process all of it and I would love your thoughts. 

I was 13 the first time a man grabbed my ass. I didn’t use the word back then. And really that is a good way to explain the situation. A man grabbed what he saw was an ass, but really it was a butt. Because the girl he had his hands on didn’t use that word. I was at a high school football game. We were walking down the bleachers to go to the concession stand. My parents were working the concession stand for the band boosters so I got to wander around with my friends and check in every once in a while where my dad would ask me if I wanted anything from the stand. It was my first taste of freedom, and I didn’t even have to buy my own popcorn.

I remember being embarrassed and angry. I felt a little shame, but mostly I was mad that I didn’t have the sense to turn around and smack whoever it was in the moment. By the time it occurred to me to do it, he was already gone. So I yelled and promised my friends that if that happened again I would smack that man.

Funny, it hasn’t happened again. I hadn’t really even thought about it until my husband asked me about #yesallwomen. I told him about how every woman has a “first time” story. The first time I was hollered at, the first time someone touched me when I didn’t want them to, the first time I realized I was unsafe. We all have one. This was mine.

The transition from mysogyny to parent hood happens pretty quick when you have left your two and four year old daughters with the babysitter and are on your way to the movies. Because if Yes ALL women face mysogyny, then when do we need to start talking to our girls about how to handle it?

I was seventeen and had just gotten my license when my dad handed me my own set of keys. I was the last of three girls so I already knew there would be a silver whistle attached. We got a whistle with our keys because we would now be going places on our own, and dad wanted us to be able to call for help. So he got each of us a rape whistle. Call it what you want, it was good parenting.

I was fifteen (maybe thirteen) when I went to a Girl Scout thing. I don’t remember exactly what it was, but it was mostly for adults, leaders and such. There was a woman invited to talk to these Girl Scout leaders about self defense. We learned the best ways to fight an attacker. I remember her speaking very frankly, and I remember being grateful I had the information. I already knew I needed it.

I was eighteen and headed to college. My mom decided to have a chat with me about date rape. I don’t remember exactly where we were, but it was probably in the car. My mom taught me the fine art of bringing up potentially awkward conversations in the car so your kid doesn’t have to make eye contact. She told me that most women who were raped in college were raped by someone they knew. She encouraged me to keep my door open when a man was in my room. Even if I trusted him. Even if he seemed like a nice guy. Just leave the door open if you can.

I site all of these as examples of being raised well, of giving me tools and information that I needed to navigate our world. It just makes me sad that they had to.

I started ranting about penises the other day in class. As a high school teacher I have to occasionally erase a crudely drawn penis somewhere in the room. On the board, on a desk, nowhere where the perpetrator can be identified, but everyone once in a while I have to erase it. Some boys in my class (who I truly adore) were giggling quite loudly and uncontrollably. It seems someone had drawn a penis on their math homework and turned it in like that. They thought it was hilarious.

I, on the other hand, was less than impressed. How in the world could these boys think this was funny? Didn’t they know that drawing a penis on some math homework is mean and violent? Didn’t they know that penises popping up where we least expect or want them is actually quite often a woman’s worst fear? To my credit, I managed to explain all this without yelling. To their credit, they listened. No, Ms. Norman, we didn’t know that lots of women fear rape. No, we didn’t understand why this isn’t funny. I know that I am their teacher, and perhaps they told me what they knew I wanted to hear. But I asked the girls in my class whether or not they have ever worried they would be raped. I asked them to agree, or disagree about whether it was creepy to just randomly see a crudely drawn penis in their text book randomly. They agreed. Creepy.

My fifteen year old girls expressed that they are already afraid. They already know they have to be afraid. I don’t think very many of them had their parents teach them anything about misogyny. They just know that there is danger. That dudes are creepy sometimes. That people touch or look or say what they shouldn’t and this is the reality of living in a very good suburb of in America and being a girl.

So really, what do I tell my girls? And when? I know for a fact fifteen is too late.

Right now I’ve got a two-year-old and a four-year-old who like to talk about how everyone is in charge of their own bodies. It is a good start, but would you believe there is already push back. Sometimes strangers think little girls should hug and kiss them just because they are little girls.

#Yesallwomen so. What do I tell my girls?


Reading Rainbow and the priorities of Common Core

A few weeks ago all my online friends lost their minds. It seemed Levar Burton was trying to re-boot Reading Rainbow. Suddenly, everyone and their mom had some money to chip in. The kick starter raised over a million dollars in just 12 hours. It was insane. It was insane to see just how much we all loved Reading Rainbow, and it was insane to see the reason it was cancelled in the first place.

Apparently, Reading Rainbow was cancelled because all it did was teach kids a love of reading, and we don’t do that anymore in this country.   Because it did not teach kids how to read, Reading Rainbow was no longer important. . That was no longer the point of public television. And that is no longer the point of education. Check the Common Core standards. It is no longer in my job description to teach kids to love books. I do it anyway, but building interest is often described by evaluators as “not rigorous” and “superfluous.” Students will learn to love reading and understand that it is an enjoyable activity, isn’t part of the common core so it isn’t worth spending time on. After all, their won’t be any questions about the love of learning on the standardized test.

Do you remember your favorite teachers? Your best teachers? I do. I took environmental science my senior year of High school because my mom wanted me to get my honors diploma. I have never once been asked if I graduated high school with honors, but I am very glad I took that class. Mr. Z taught environmental science. I think he had created the whole course, and he loved it. He loved it. He loved the worms we grew and the lettuce in the hydroponic shelves. He loved going out to the creek with us and helping us collect samples that we diagnosed. He loved the science of our own backyards, and he taught me to love it to.

I had hated science up to that point, scraping a C in biology and having to take chemistry twice. But Mr. Z showed me why it mattered. He explained how science can literally effect the creek in your back yard, how that water eventually comes out of your tap.  He made me really explore why worms are important to the food we eat. I suddenly understood how my world came together and why it was a big deal to dump your half drunk Mountain Dew on the marching band practice field because it was hot and flat. I don’t remember anything he taught me about PH levels. I could no longer tell you about the earth’s various levels. But now I carry a phone that can connect to an online encyclopedia. All that stuff has left my brain, but I don’t dump stuff on the sidewalk, and I think worms are really cool. Mr. Z did that, he taught me how to care about the earth around me. Just like Ms. Lane taught me to care about the rain forest when I was in the fourth grade.

Mr. Z and Levar Burton have a lot in common. Reading Rainbows main goal is to make kids fall in love with books, and it is clear from the support that was poured out onto the Kickstarter campaign to re-boot Reading Rainbow, it worked. My generation loves the way Reading Rainbow talks about books enough to pay for it this time around. Isn’t that worth something?

The Common Core standards says getting a kid to love a subject isn’t worth instructional time. Not explicitly, no. But this is the way that teaching now works, if it isn’t in the standards, I am not supposed to teach it. All of my instruction must be standards based. Reading Rainbow got cancelled because teaching a love for is not as valuable as teaching how. Teaching a love for is currently viewed as a waste of time.

Teaching a love for reading is probably the most important thing I can do in my room. My students are not going to remember every plot point and symbol in Lord of the Flies. They aren’t going to hold with them tightly exactly how the convoluted mess went down in Romeo and Juliet. Our brains don’t work like that. But I hope they remember that Shakespeare is fun and thoroughly enjoyable. I hope I teach them that literature is not just about what happens in a book, but what the book is saying about life. I hope I teach them that you are allowed to think a book is terrible that everyone else loves (especially if you know why), and that a really good book informs you about yourself and the way you operate in the world.

But all of that isn’t in the standards. It is seen as extra. It isn’t on the standardized test. Nothing Reading Rainbow taught can be tested via multiple choice. Instead, Reading Rainbow can rally people together to the tune of 3,732,306 of dollars in 16 days. That seems important to me, but I didn’t write the Common Core.



The Whistle of Shame

When Marvia Davidson suggests something, I am in. This is a particularly brilliant idea. She started a link up called Real Talk Tuesday. This week we are talking about shame.

We’ve been to the pool 5 of the last 6 days. I keep waking up and asking the girls if they want to go to the movies or the park. They keep telling me they would rather just get their suits on. It’s not worth arguing over, and we have already paid for the pool.

At the pool though, sometimes I am transported back to my youth. The smells and sights and sounds are all exactly as they once were. Especially the sounds. The feet patpatpatpatpat against the pavement, slowly gaining in speed as they head for the slide until TWEETTWEET the whistle, WALK! Oh, yes. pat pat patpatpat.

The whistle, OH! The whistle. One big long whistle to signify time to jump in and another to signify a ten minute break. (I’ve learned to bring a snack for each break we are likely to sit through. It keeps everyone much happier.) Then in between a constant barrage of tweet-tweet to remind everyone of the rules. But I hate the whistles. The first two days I was at the pool I looked up paranoid at the lifeguards every time the whistles blew. I grew pre-emptively embarrassed and even threatened to leave and never come back when Juliet escaped from my hands and dove headlong into the pool in the midst of a break. I was mortified. No one had to blow the whistle. I was doing it to myself.

TWEET you’re doing it wrong

TWEET your body is wrong

TWEET you’re parenting wrong

TWEET your oldest is too friendly and adventurous

TWEET your youngest is too timid

TWEET everyone is looking at you TWEET everyone is judging you TWEET you are violating rules you don’t even know about TWEET wrongwrongwrongwrongwrong TWEEEEEEET!

You see, I got the purpose of the whistles mixed up. They are only designed to enforce the rules that keep everyone safe. If me or my kids are getting tweeted at, it isn’t to tell us to go home, but rather to remind us the best ways to stay safe.

Somewhere along the way I got confused about the whistle, at the pool and in my life. I thought correction was telling me to give up and go home. If I couldn’t figure out how to do it perfectly, I was out. (Take for example, this post, Real Talk Tuesday on Wednesday, but that is okay, I am still doing it!) I thought the whistle meant STOP THAT YOU ARE SO BAD! When really it just means HEY! That isn’t a good idea, try another way. Whistles are important, and life saving, but we can’t interpret them to think we should just stay out of the pool.

Faith without Doubt (a doubters link up)

I’m not a doubter by nature. I’m just not. Telling me something and tell me it is true and I am happy to believe you. In this way I am lucky to be married to a bit of a skeptic. He keeps me from diving head first into empty pools. Pools, I have of course, been told there was water in.

I don’t know whether it is nature, like some kind of strange genetic chemistry passed down from one generation of faithful believers to the next, or more nuture. It is hard to be a doubter when you saw God keep your lights on a handful of times in childhood. I have never really questioned the existence of God. Not really. Not deep down. I have always been sure of God’s existence. Some call that naive, others call it the gift of faith. I don’t really know what to say about it, except that I am sure this is the way I am wired.

I am not really a doubter, but I want you to know that I respect yours. I think, in many ways, faith without doubt is dead.

I am not a doubter, but I have found myself a safe place for those who doubt. I know the light is coming, I am not afraid of the dark. Some would say I am the steady friend that doubters need, that I keep them coming back. I don’t think this is the case at all. I think that hanging around the doubters, has only strengthened my faith.

It is like my classroom. I know the deepest learning happens when the questions are being asked. If we are reading along and no one has any questions, it isn’t because I am that amazing. It is because everyone has tuned the audiobook out. When we are thinking about, engaging in, trying to understand, the very nature of God, of course their will be doubts. If there comes a day that I have no more doubts, then I probably need to wade in deeper. I think doubts is evidence of a person being stretched, of a faith being used, not tucked away in a box somewhere.

I wish there were more room for doubt in our churches, in our Bible studies. I was driving home from a wedding last week, my mini-van full of my little girls and three of the most faithful people I know. Somehow, as the road and our conversation winded around, I learned that I was the only one in the van who had not stayed up at night, wondering if this whole thing we have based our life on isn’t all for nothing. I wasn’t horrified. Instead I was impressed. These people I know, who I would say are faithful, they choose that path, amidst the doubting. I don’t think that makes them somehow less faithful, I think perhaps it make them more.

My dear friend Alissa is doing a doubting link up. I love this so much. I think it explores a topic we don’t talk about enough. Go check out the other posts.