Freedom

Finding Freedom from My Fears

I first read about the angel Gabriel’s exhortation to Fear Not! when I was in my early twenties. My initial thought was, Not fearing is an option? I didn’t know I had a choice. As far back as I have memory, I have memory of being afraid.  My fears did not attach to tangible objects […]

Revival Is Already Happening: An Interview with Carly Gelsinger

I’ve long appreciated Carly Gelsinger’s honesty about spiritual abuse and recovering from try-hard, never-enough Christianity. She wrote a memoir about her experience with radical faith, called Once You Go In, and I was eager to interview her. With so many revelations about abusive leaders coming out, I think it’s important we talk honestly about the appeal toxic […]

Fear and Faith in the Desert Places

I love Robert Frost’s poem “Desert Places.” Typical of Frost, the speaker in this poem describes a natural environment of forests, fields, and snow. But this isn’t a beautiful or peaceful place. Quite the opposite: it’s a place of darkness, cold, and isolation–it’s a menacing and threatening place. For me, the genius of the poem […]

Dear Portia: The Spiraling Journey of Forgiveness

How Do We Know When We’re Done Forgiving? Dear Portia, What does forgiveness look like when you work through the process and do your best, but either the offender never acknowledges their sin or they continue to offend? Not asking about boundaries, that’s pretty clear to me, but how do we know when we’re done? […]

Prayer Requests Make Me Anxious

I don’t think I have a normal reaction to prayer requests. Rather than making me want to go pray, they tend to edge me towards hyperventilation. Take the other day in my small group. There were some doozy requests. People suffering from the death of a spouse, cancer, job loss, financial holes, a risky and […]

When You’re Afraid of Dying

“If you want Elita to throw anything away, just tell her it causes cancer.” This was the advice a friend gave my husband, Mark, when we first got married. It was true. I had once thrown away a whole box of scented candles and a series of scratched Teflon frying pans because someone had told […]

No One Belongs Here More Than You

The first sofa we had was purchased before we were married. We had been dating for well over a year and I helped him pick it out at a “real” furniture store. It was a light khaki colored canvas sofa, loveseat, and ottoman set. Oversized and soft, it enveloped us as we sat on it […]

Learning to Be

Late November, I hit a wall. A panic attack out of nowhere led me to spend a week in bed recuperating, watching Hallmark channel movies to the point where there was nothing else in my YouTube feed. (I know, they’re terrible, but everything works out in the end. It’s so comforting). The attack forced me […]

Belonging and Being a Writer of Color at FFW

I lived in Central Asia for a few years, and I loved it!  But the weather was cold (think Southern Siberia); the winters were long; I never became fluent in Russian by any means; and there were aspects of the culture I never understood. In fact, I remember feeling incredibly angry and frustrated with myself […]

The Problem With Abortion

If you look for the helpers, you’ll know that there is hope. ~Mr. Rogers Last year I came across a video gone viral that do what viruses are created to do and made me sick. The images on my screen showed a human person on the pavement, moving slow as death, if at all. They […]

Flashback Friday: Ida B. Wells

This post was written by Velynn Brown for our Women’s History Month theme on March 25, 2015. Southern trees bear strange fruit Blood on the leaves and blood at the root Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees Before Billie Holiday sang the lyrics above at Cafe Society, […]

Arguing with God about the Bible

Once upon a time, I told God to start sounding more like Cheryl Strayed. You might have heard of Strayed’s most famous book, Wild, which became a movie by Reese Witherspoon. She’s also the advice columnist Sugar, originally on The Rumpus and now a podcast from WBUR. I love Strayed’s work the way most normal […]