Hello. Welcome to our new blog! This is our first post and I would love to begin by sharing what this is and why we are doing it. (This is from my perspective, as Jen is writing below why she is setting out to blog.) Expectations are important when setting out on any endeavor or relationship, so I’ll tell you what you can expect here.
Let me begin with our name. Out of the Woods is a funny name for a blog…really for anything for that matter (unless it is a Taylor Swift song). Naturally, this is a medium to express what is coming out of us: the Woods. But more than that, this blog is a means of expressing things that have long stirred in us. A way of living. A way of seeing. A way of experiencing spirituality, life, and community.
And while there are a lot of blogs out there and a lot of words written and spoken on the internet, we can’t shake the desire to enter the conversation in this way. Through our shared experience in planting a church, raising a family, and leading together for the last 13 years we have developed a unique perspective and lens and we want to share it.
There is a powerful, even visceral connection that takes place when something takes up residence in a person and then comes through them in a deeply authentic way. Our hope is to not simply share disconnected commentary on ideas, but rather our imperfect pursuit of embodying a particular kind of life. We want to invite you to enter into that pursuit with us.
Also, we live in an increasingly complex spiritual landscape. And although we don’t have it all figured out, we long to share our lives and experience in a way that would hopefully provide a depth of meaning and point toward clarity when it comes to living an authentic, full life. We want to give witness to how a life following Jesus matters and can impact this world for the good.
We write at the intersection of Spirituality, Culture, and Everyday Life.
Beyond that, we both just love writing and want to make it part of our daily and weekly lives. It is really fun to sit and create with words. I speak regularly at our church, but this provides a different kind of platform to say and pursue things that for various reasons I am not able to on a Sunday. Our content and style will reflect our relationship and life in that this will truly be a project founded in partnership. Sometimes we will write separately, sometimes together on the same post, and sometimes we will each write our own take on the same idea in separate posts (like this one). You can count on a few posts a week with regularity to start as we get going and as we find our rhythm, posts more often than that.
Through sharing our lives, telling stories, and offering our insights and commentary on living, we hope to awaken spirituality, empower, speak hope, point out meaning and life where we see it, and speak into the beautiful reality and calling of what it means to be a human.
I hope you join us along the way!
Phil gave some of the broader reasons why we want to start a blog together. But, for me there is a little bit more. For me- it’s personal as well. Because, here is the funny thing about me writing a blog: this is something I said I would NEVER do!
I really should have learned by now to NEVER say NEVER to anything.
Basically, everything I have ever said I will never do, I have done. When I said, “I will never work with Middle School students,” I then ended up teaching middle school for 8 years and helped lead a Middle School youth group. When I said, “I will never drive a minivan,” and then it just really made the most sense for me to drive one. When I said, “My kids will never be those screaming kids on the airplane,” and then we were those parents with kids crying an entire redeye flight with everyone trying to sleep. And of course, I have said more than once, “I will NEVER have a blog or write blog posts!”
And yet, here we are. Just like pretty much everything I said I’d never do as a parent or in life, here I am eating my own words. Or at least writing my own words TO A BLOG.
So, here I sit laughing at myself and feeling a bit presumptuous as I write my first
blog post. And the big question is-
Why? Why write this blog?
- We simply hope to open up space for people to have meaningful conversations around some of the relevant topics that Phil and I engage in on a regular basis-faith, culture, family, and life.
In leading a church with my husband, we regularly engage in honest, deep spaces of vulnerability, and authenticity in conversations about faith, culture, marriage, dating, parenting, family issues, and life’s general complexities- both with each other and with people in our community. Phil and I always talk about how powerful these kinds of conversations are in shaping and giving life. We hope that this blog will become a place that opens up more of these conversations for more people.
One of the things that I have learned along the way in these conversations is that WE ALL HAVE OUR STUFF. Every single one of is struggling or wrestling with something. Every single one of us has our insecurities- no matter how shiny or beautiful our Instagram looks. Every single one of us is fighting a battle and is in need of grace and a safe place to let down our guard and ask the big questions that life begs…
We hope to create a safe place for people to ask honest questions, engage in authentic conversation around faith and culture and do so WITHOUT FEELING JUDGED.
- For a fresh perspective. We believe that God is good and loves ALL people. We know that when it comes to church, God, and faith many of us have been hurt or at the least have seen Christians in the media who have been extremely judgmental and harsh. Many of us have been made to feel lesser than. So many people have seen an ugly side of Christianity, whether through the media or in their own personal lives, and we hope to give a refreshing perspective on what it can look like to follow God in today’s world.
Disclaimer: We are not the experts and we do not by any means claim to have all the answers. We are on a journey like everyone else and our faith and thoughts on life and God are always evolving, like everyone else’s.
- Writing has always been in my bones. Ever since I was young, reading and writing has captivated me. As a little girl, I’d enter in summer library contests and read and read until my imagination was filled to the brim. Then I would pick up a pencil and begin to write my own stories, poems and journal entries, doing my best to emulate the brilliance of the authors I had read. My teachers would give me extra time to finish my writing assignments, because inevitably mine would take longer than everyone else’s as I would become engrossed in the task and unable to wrap it up on time because I was enjoying it so much. Writing has always been a part of who I am.
- Writing is an outlet for me– a way of making sense of things. Somehow actually verbalizing (on paper) my thoughts helps me to sort through them. Writing something out gives it a sense of permanence that is ultimately satisfying. To me, writing feels like exhaling. And as I inhale more and more of the life of God, the more I want to breathe it out and share it with others. For me, when I write, I feel closer to the one who created me. When I write, even though I am emptying myself in a way, I feel filled up. I feel the presence of God.
A lot of times I write out my prayers because it gives me handles- something I can hold onto with hope. It gives me an opportunity to look back and see the ways that God actually does answer my prayers. When I write out prayers, especially big, scary dream type prayers that would take a miracle to fulfill, it feels like a step of faith- like I was brave enough to actually write it down and ask God. By putting it on paper, it feels as if I am actually trusting that God might be able to do something miraculous. It feels risky. It feels like I am alive.
Writing makes me feel alive.
Alright. So there it is. I guess I need to stop saying never. The minivan I drive every day should be a reminder to me about that. Or, maybe I will keep saying it because it’s a really humbling thing to eat your own words and realize that you don’t have it all figured out. And we really never will.
So, this is the beginning of a journey- one that we are really excited about embarking upon and we would love for you to come along! We can’t wait to hear your thoughts, questions, dreams, frustrations, ponderings and to be part of something bigger- a safe space for people to share, to be real about the big questions that life is asking. . . and to see where it takes us!