My name is Stephanie, and I know only two things for certain. The first is this: life never goes according to plan.
I grew up deep in the Bible Belt, where the first two questions anyone asked a new kid was, “Are you an Auburn or Alabama fan?” and “What church do you go to?” Not that I met many new kids. Growing up in my house, we loved each other, went to church, made good grades, marched in the band, and, most importantly, never moved away. It was a great way to live when you’re 7, but a little less enticing at 17.
In high school, I met a crowd of happy clappy hippy Christians who spent all their time and money leading retreats and feeding strangers on the side of the road. I fell in love, both with the daring, renegade God they knew so well, and with the community itself. I jumped head first into their world. My Presbyterian youth minister warned me to be careful, because any group that allowed women to preach could not possibly be God’s best for me. My mother thought I’d joined a cult. Even better.
In many ways, my life began in that campsite, singing – literally – kumbaya with fifty or so people who loved me for no good reason. That group held my hand as I crossed the border into Aslan’s country. Once I saw that landscape, I’ve never been satisfied living anywhere else.
That group set the tone for my adult life. Finding God outside of the places I was taught to look has been the common thread in my life. My spiritual journey has taken me to the prayer room of IHOP in Kansas City, the Christian t-shirt, CCM, late-night, stupid-people-tricks life of a youth minister in rural Alabama, the single-but-married life of a touring musician’s wife in Nashville, and the for-God’s-sake-look-the-part life of a southern minister’s wife. It also led me straight off a cliff, into the abyss of destructive theology and spiritually abusive leadership. When I climbed out, I blinked and realized I was nowhere I’d ever been before. Instead, I found God – of all places – in the deep comfort of liturgy. These days you’ll find me at a progressive Anglican church in Denver, a million miles from where I began. I’m raising four kids single, but no where close to alone. And I’m doing what I always wanted to do when I grew up – editing and writing while shooing kids out the door and looking for lost lunch boxes. It’s a little irreverent sometimes, slightly chaotic all the time. But I love my life, and I adore the people in it. This is my home.
My life doesn’t look anything like what I thought it would, but here’s the second thing I know for sure: life sprouts through the cracks.
Not because God has ordained bad things to accomplish good, but because God is goodness, and He just can’t help himself. Good will happen wherever God is.
A Wide Mercy is where I come to look for God. This is my personal blog, where I share how to respond to the Duggars in a healthy way, what I think about the big lie about parenting, why I love All Saints Day, and how a neighbor’s scary moment led me to thank God for bathing suits (yes, really). It’s also where I write about how I handle the days coming off the rails, or the two intense brushes with death that have profoundly shaped my family over the past few years. Elsewhere online I edit and write about parenting, mostly, faith, occasionally. But here, at A Wide Mercy, I look for God.
Always and everywhere, we find God both in context and in community. My context is this: the rural Southern girl turned renegade Jesus freak who fell off a cliff and climbed out into the progressive liturgical church. And my community is you. You guys, who email and comment, who say #metoo on Facebook and laugh at my mistakes with me – you are my people. We’re not singing Kumbaya at a campsite, but we are in one space all the same, crossing over into Aslan’s country together. I thank God for you.
Thanks for stopping by.