Welcome Home is the Yellow Brick Road

I'll go first.

Once you have resigned yourself to the artist category in life, the road does not magically lay down yellow and lead you straight to the coveted Emerald City. In fact, I would venture to say that once you have resigned yourself to the _________ category in life, that road doesn't immediately (or possibly ever) turn  yellow, bloom flowers and lead you to the mythic green city either.

Most roads aren't that predictable or generous.

They are potholes, detours, weeds and prison crews in bright orange vests picking up trash in the wings.

Today I had one of those days where my career-road felt wobbly, weak and worrisome. It was no sparkly, golden yellow path with poppies and bluebonnets rising to greet me. It was dead-ends and I-give-up's. I will go first and tell you that I have my fair share of these days. And by "fair share" I mean I contemplate never stepping on stage, writing a song or a book ever again- about once a week. I assume this number is a bit disproportionate in comparison to people with "real" jobs. By their very nature, an artist has to wake up each day and assume their painting, sculpting, drawing, music, writing, acting, poetry or other contribution to the world is indeed a contribution and indeed worth pursuing even when there seems to be no discernible road at hand. At the very least, it seems that if I were a nurse, I would know that I was needed in society. Whether I enjoyed or tolerated well my job would not take away from the fact that at the end of the day, my job was necessary in society. An artist doesn't get that satisfaction. An artist just hopes what they are doing is necessary to someone- anyone's- sanity and joy. But it's all one big guessing game.  Madeleine L'Engle says in Walking on Water, that the artist is simply called to faithfully bring forth their art- whether they know it brings someone sanity and joy or not. I would rather bring forth a colonoscopy bag. There is no question whether this is vitally important to the patient.

I stared at my computer a good bit this morning. It was sacred writing time, but I couldn't write. I only kept looking at the blank dates on the calendar. Why weren't more show offers coming in? People want to know if I will do a book tour when the book releases on September 1st. I have no idea. Who books a book tour? Shows are hard these days. I am not "on tour" in any sense of the word and don't wish to be. I did my years of three months on an RV or tour bus at a time... and it is not for me. Not as a momma and a wife and all the other things I hold dear. So these days I travel on weekends. Often with Annie. And always with the same, small tribe of musicians. We go to women's conferences and lead worship. We go to college campuses and churches who open wide the doors to their community. And I tell stories of the many ways I have seen God's faithfulness, his grace, mercy and miraculous provisions in my tatteredy-redemptive-life. I read pages from my book and sing songs, old and new, of hope now and what little I know about Holy. I pray with people, laugh, guide, celebrate, cry and then I come back home. And if I am lucky? I do it all over again the next weekend with new brothers and sisters in a different nook and cranny of the country.

This morning I feared the end of those precious moments spent sharing song and story. Anger is a by-product of fear and I felt myself getting angry. Angry that some churches have become so corporate they have lost their ability to be spontaneous. They are well-oiled machines with no room for outsiders. Angry that I wasn't more social-media driven; a hustler; a mover and shaker and connector. Angry that I hadn't worked harder at promoting myself. How does one even do this? Frustrated that big tours blow through towns now with a slew of artists for only $10! and all other concert options seem ludicrously priced to the average concert goer who assumes a $10 ticket price should be normal. Frustrated that I am still faithfully creating art and still frustrated by the madness of it all!!!!! Seriously?!? Will puberty ever end? Being an artist is like living in the angst of forever puberty.

And these are the things you shouldn't say online because you want to be the "it" person so that the conferences, churches and colleges who are bringing in the "it" people will clearly see that YOU ARE IT!!! But today I felt so not "it."

And the most maddening part of it all is that I don't want to be "it." I just want to keep faithfully bringing forth the music and stories that are deep inside of me. I want to keep telling people that they are becoming and that is ok and God is good at deserts and even better at promised-lands. 

So I told God I was frustrated. I told God I wanted opportunities. Not because I want to be "it" but because all I know to do is keep faithfully putting these stories of beauty and redemption out there. I told God I would absolutely learn to be a nurse and figure out that whole colonoscopy thing if that were a better road. 

Instead He responded, in my soul, with a story. No audible words. Just a vision. A memory. The story of the wealthy man in Luke 14 who prepares a great dinner and invites many to come but is met with excuses for the excessive reasons they could not. The man becomes angry and sends out his helpers and says invite everyone else then! Go the streets! Compel them to come.

"When you are butting your head against the wall, Jenny, and the dinner guests politely decline... maybe you are asking the wrong guests," God whispered deep inside me.

"Well, where do I find the right guests?" I snapped back.

There was no answer.

Moments later I opened up my email. There was a letter from a church of misfits, 12-steppers and broken people wondering if they might have permission to use my song lyrics in a book. A teeny-tiny small church for really broken people? That sounded like the exact kind of people the man in Luke 14 compelled to come to his party. And my kind of people at any rate. I clicked on the church's link to see where they were located. What do you know. Right next to the place I had been banging my head against and being politely declined (or ignored) as I tried to line up shows in the area. I immediately wrote the man back and said, "Yes you can use the lyrics AND I know this is weird, but this is my message and my heart and can I come play these songs and share these stories for your people on this specific date? I promise I don't usually invite myself. But I guess God kind of told me to this time. I don't need money. This is just what I am made to do and I would love to pour into your people, so...." 

He wrote back immediately and said, "Welcome home."

Of course I sobbed on my couch. Who knew "welcome home" could mean so much? But after being politely pushed aside and wondering if the dinner party will ever happen...welcome home feels so welcoming. 

I was so amazed by the response that I wrote another person. And then another. Not the people who had been checking their budgets, checking their calendars, seeing if I was a good fit or if they might be able to get a bigger "it". No, I just went straight to people in cities that I knew loved on others well. A pastor and volunteer firefighter, a teacher, and a tiny-small church full of recovering-everything's. And by the end of the day today I booked three concerts of sorts. And each person that I approached said a whole-hearted, welcome-home, yes. Yes to their couch, their back-yard, their church of broken-beautifuls.

And maybe you are on the not-so-yellow-brick-road feeling the same wobbly, weak and worrisome feelings I have been having. You are inviting people to a banquet who don't seem to care- or might possibly, eventually care if nothing better comes along- and you wonder if maybe, just maybe it might be better for you to do _________ instead. I would challenge you to remember that the colonoscopy guy or gal probably feels the same way from time to time too. But more importantly, I would challenge you to remember Luke 14. Go to the streets. The mom that no one else includes. The co-workers on the fringe. The not-who-you-imagined next door neighbors. The guys or girls on the team who are waiting, hoping to be invited. The small church that can't afford to bring in an artist and may only be able to pay you in sweet-tea and mashed potatoes. Go there. To the places that won't give you any status in the "it" world but with people who are compelled to join you at the dinner table and break bread with you all the same. Forgo the original invitation list. Think bigger. Or smaller. Or out of the box and into a giant circle. Draw broader lines and compel them to join you. They are not mind readers.  You might have to go to the streets and invite them.  You might have to invite yourself. And I know that is scary. I did it holding my breath today- wondering if I might look insane or worse- if they, too, might politely decline. 

But you may be surprised, friend. Because their answer just might be

welcome home

and welcome home IS the yellow-brick-road.

In The Way

We found out yesterday that the Church needed to open its doors to the homeless community during the coming days of extremely cold weather here in Nashville. Thank God for faith communities of every creed that are willing to open up their very houses of worship and transform them into makeshift dorms so the most vulnerable have a safe, warm place to rest their heads.

Annie wanted to help.  She asked Ryan and I at lunch if she could go to the church later that night to help me set up. The idea of a slumber party at church made the child exceedingly giddy, even if she wasn't the one spending the night. Lock-ins are going to totally blow her mind. And then an idea came across her face so sincerely that she blurted out the most beautiful question, "Do they need stuffed animals to snuggle with?" Because when you are almost six-years-old, every occasion calls for a stuffed animal to snuggle with. Especially a cold, lonely night in a new place you've never been to. But before Ryan or I could answer, we realized it was a rhetorical question and she had no intentions of gleaning any answers for us.

"I'll be in charge of stuffed animals!" she said triumphantly; matter-of-factly.

I assumed she would move on by the time we got home. I might even be able to dissuade her from going with me, that way I could actually set up with some degree of quickness and efficiency. I was wrong.

As soon as we got home she went straight to her room, dumped out her entire industrial sized pink bin of stuffed animals and dolls and began to sort. Every other doll she would bring to me with a heavy look of discernment and say, "I don't know? Do you think Raggedy Ann? Because she's a girl, but she could be for boys or girls because she's tough."  Or, "Do you think this GloWorm? Because I bet someone will probably be afraid of the dark." Or, with guilt, "Do you think it's ok if I don't send my lamby, because she reminds me of..."

She carefully, thoughtfully sorted through the dolls and animals trying to determine what a grown man or woman might want to sleep with through her enormous, tender heart and eyes.

And I warned her, repeatedly, that she might not get the dolls back. Ryan and I stood in the kitchen, over hushed voices, he asked what any careful and cautious adult might, "Will she be in the way?"  We both longed to discourage her from what might potentially be a situation where she poured her tender heart out only to be overlooked. We wanted to dissuade her from getting hurt, from being in the way.

We scrounged up every- unfortunately pink- fleece Disney blanket in the house and with the help of my next door neighbor, we managed to round up a trunk full of pillows and blankets. And headed back to the church three hours later.

She taped her sign covered in stickers and XOXO (which she quite cautiously attaches to the end of letters to people she would only actually kiss or hug) to the back wall of the church's makeshift dorm, "FOR SNUGGLING LOVE ANNIE." She laid out her most pretty blanket and set each animal out, carefully, thoughtfully. And then she found me and although a few other kids were there running around, what she really wanted to do was help make beds. She picked out pillows and blankets and helped pull bed sheets through the cracks of the chairs to secure them in place. A job I told her she was uniquely qualified for since she had the smallest fingers and could grab and pull what we could not. 

As I laid in bed last night, I heard Ryan's very practical adult words echoing in my head, "Will she be in the way?" And I began to think of how often we adults miss it because we are too self-conscious, too practical, too worried we might get hurt or- gasp- might be in the way. Of course even as parents of children whom we long to protect, we allow them to "be in the way," because they are childlike and innocent; their actions are cute and sweet; and there is the whole Jesus to the Disciples bit about "No, you idiots, let the little children come to me." So we let children go and set up their dolls and tape their signs to the church wall, "FOR SNUGGLING LOVE ANNIE."  Because who are we to keep the little children from the things of Jesus?

But often, we adults are a totally different story aren't we?

Too many God-fearing, Jesus-loving adults do absolutely nothing beautiful or whimsical or redemptive for the world around them because they live with the voices in their head saying:
What if I am in the way?
What if they don't really need me?
What if I don't have much to offer?
What if I am embarrassed?
What if I the pink Disney blankets I brought aren't good enough? What if I just leave them in the car until I know for sure I won't look like an idiot?
What if I pull out my offering as a last resort?

The questions reek of worry, shame and fear of the opinion of others.
Not radical love.  

Radical acts of love and service can't just emanate from our tender hearted children who are completely unaware that they might be in the way; who are completely unaware of being 'self-conscious' yet. While their acts are beautiful, they can't be expected to suffice as the whole. Loving radically well isn't just child's play. Radical acts of love and service are the stuff of adults who love God and seek to make His kingdom known here and now on earth as it is in heaven.

I woke up this morning reminded that I don't want to live small and safe and practical and fearful and shame-driven and worried I might be in the way. 

I want to be in the way.
I want to be more like Annie.
I want to be embarrassed for bringing too much. Too little. Too ugly. Too girly. Too useless.
Too ________.

If I am guilty, let me be guilty of showing up with not quite the right thing but showing up all the same.

Because while it is endearing to see a child offer their stuffed animals, what is more endearing is to see the mix-match of adults who showed up last night with their comforters, blankets, pillows and linens. Perhaps afraid, self-conscious, or unsure if their old ______ was needed, but who still showed up all the while with the most intimate of belongings. Sheets, blankets, pillows from their very bedrooms, invisible signs, "FOR SNUGGLING LOVE JENNY."

The adults who inspire me the most on this earth are the ones
who are in the way
or perhaps, more accurately
becoming the way
through which the world knows true love.

Asthma + Elephants + A Holy Fight

So this is what yesterday looked like.

I woke up in pain. Bad pain. My chest was so tight and sore I felt like an elephant was sitting on me and I might split wide open, my heart popping straight out of my body. This is normal. Each day I dread the first few breaths I take because I know how bad my chest will hurt. This is normal too. I’ve had this sensation for as long as I can remember and just assumed it was normal. That all people dreaded waking up because the pain of getting the first few puffs of air in their chest caused their eyes to well up with tears too. Then I found out in June that I had asthma.

I was in a meeting when the elephant came to sit on top of me again, squeezing my chest so hard that I immediately broke out in sweat and chills from the pain. By this point I had watched enough Oprah and Ellen to know that thirty-year-olds have heart attacks and chest pain shouldn't be ignored. So I called my doctor and they told me they were not allowed to see me with chest pain, that I needed to go straight to the hospital. So I went to a walk-in clinic instead.

The doctor was incredible. He began the way most doctors do with working mom’s. “Tell me about what kind of stress you are under.” And I get it. I know this is a good, necessary question. But if I were a man, I would have been hooked up to an EKG machine right away. As a female, first, they want to know if you are stressed. I told him I have an amazing therapist, psychiatrist, yoga-class, hiking schedule and prayer life. The magic Zoloft pill has long eradicated the debilitating anxiety I experienced in my 20’s. This was not stress. This was an elephant. Which is the universal code for I think I am having a heart attack.

The EKG was normal. The chest x-ray was normal. The blood work was normal. It was all normal, normal, normal. Except that I couldn’t friggin' breathe. And that’s when my little minute-clinic-doctor said that based on the X-ray’s, I have a very small frame and passageways around my lungs and he couldn’t believe I was a singer. He asked about asthma, pulled out a tubular device and asked me to breathe as hard as I could into it. I tried. He looked at the numbers puzzled. He told me to try again, this time coaching me like I was a track star, “Harder, go, go, go, go, harder!” I finished in a coughing frenzy and thought I might pass out. He said my lung capacity appeared to be about 50-60% lower than what it should be and I was essentially only getting 40% of the air I needed. He sent me to an asthma doctor.

Since that day seven months ago I have been working with doctors to try and figure out how I can breathe better. And the whole process has been maddening. The inhalers make me shaky. Like, hands shaking so bad I can’t pound out words on the computer or hold my mascara tube without dropping it shaky. So they move me from taking normal inhalers to taking rescue inhalers as my normal inhaler. And this does not make me shaky. But it jumpstarts my chest so drastically that the coughing spells take over and Ryan notes I sound like a dying bear. I weigh the options. Do I want to breathe? Shake? Or cough to death? Finding the right medicine has been a nightmare.

And then there are the well meaning people who want me to know that they were cured of every illness in the world when they went gluten-free! sugar-free! meat-free! fill-in-the-blank free! Then others who want to know whether I have used Thieves because Thieves cures everything. And I have used Thieves and I am not cured. Then others who want me to know my body is strong in the Lord! And my body was built to overcome illness without medicine! Then others who swear by Zyflamend or swear by this acupuncturist or this herb whittled down from a tree-of-life at the top of the Himalayas. You get the point. Everyone’s best intentions are to see you made well, without all the pain and struggle in between. And each one of them has a different opinion than the team of doctors I have carefully, thoughtfully chosen for myself. They are sure that their mantras, cures, doctors and homeopathic remedies will fix me better or faster or without all this modern-day medicine hoopla.

And I am tired of the cacophony.
I just want to breathe.

Just a few days without this dang elephant threatening to split my ribs wide open. Just a morning where I don’t have to talk myself into taking my first deep breath and wincing through tears from the pain that follows.

Yesterday the pain hurt worse than it has in years. For three days I’ve been tied up with heat packs and ice packs. I’ve taken Zyflamend, Thieves, epsom salt baths and tried every inhaler the doctors have given me. You name it, I’ve tried it.

So I went to Walgreens to get the new prescription that the doctors swore would work wonders. I was hopeful. Desperate. It rang up for $500. Insurance covered $13.  And I immediately started crying. Poor Walgreens girl. I told her I could not buy it and left the store snotting and tearing over everything in my path. Once home, I wrote my doctor on the online portal to tell her that the miracle meds were too expensive and was there anything else I could try? But then the nurse wrote back and said my doctor was now working at a different location and the doctor currently in the office suggested, if I wasn’t allergic to it, Aleve.

That’s when I really lost it.

Tears and snot and sobs because, Aleve? Seriously?! I’ve got a one-ton animal sitting on my chest and you think Aleve is going to cut it? Are you sure you are an asthma doctor? And of course I’ve taken Aleve. I’ve drained the bottle.

Three emails later, I finally got my real doctor back. She forgot to send in one of the meds, a simple Medrol dose pack to give immediate relief and a new inhaler to try. Ryan went to Walgreens this time. He got the new meds. He also brought home the Fekkai hair products that I never let myself buy but always want. A new bottle of hairspray. Some chocolate. And a Bota Box. Because Medrol and Bota Box go together in his mind. And literally two hours later, I felt like a new person. A person who could breathe without being in horrible pain.

This morning there was no wincing when I took my first breath. No tears before I got out of bed. No dread in the bottom of my stomach. Just a normal morning. The kind of normal I haven’t experienced in way too long. Today has been good.

I share this experience because there are some of you who know what it’s like to live with an illness or sickness that threatens to suck the life out of you, rob you of your joy and make you want to scream at the next person who suggests using Thieves or Aleve. You are not alone. And you are fighting a holy fight. To seek wholeness for the body which God himself created and called good is one of the most honorable battles we can face on this side of heaven. So keep writing the doctors back on their invisible, online portals. Keep insisting that they try a new medicine. Or put you in contact with your original doctor, or send you on to the next person who might be able to help you crack open the mystery of the elephant that you KNOW is not coming from stress.

To seek wholeness for the body which God himself created and called good is one of the most honorable battles we can face this side of heaven.

You, wounded and broken, are not alone. Though your body may fail you, your spirit can soar. So keep fighting. Keep finding the tiny slivers of light and hope. As Margaret Feinberg says, keep fighting back with joy. Cry to the poor Walgreens lady. Eat a bunch of chocolate. Tell your significant other that it is not nice to tell people they sound like dying bears. Then cry a few more tears. Then rally the troops. Pour the medicines out in the bowl and start over. Go through them again. Pray that God will meet you right there in your lostness, pain and frustration. Pray that you might have the patience, grace, stamina, fight, endurance and humor to get through one more step. And then the next. And then the next. Celebrate the mornings with no elephants. Or whatever you have come to call your enemy. Give yourself grace on the mornings that it is there, rearing its head in rare form telling you it controls your life. It does not.

The body is not the sum total of a life. The soul can sing a different tune.

So sing, friend. Sing a different tune when you can. A tune more beautiful than the mysterious thing deep in your bones, blood and body threatening to steal your story. Sing a different tune.

And keep fighting.

Grace Calls Us

Yesterday our church honored the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

My pastor, a scholar and total history geek, walked us through King’s entire life, birth to death. Sadly, I confess I learned more about the totality of King’s life in that brief hour yesterday than I have my first thirty-four years of living. Tears slid down my face the entire service. What a man. As I thought about his life’s call to unleash his oppressed brothers and sisters, I thought about Jesus. A man around the same age who lived in a time when women were not taught- and yet Jesus taught them. When dirty lepers, who were a threat to Torah abiding Jews were sent to live beyond the boundaries of the city so no one would accidentally touch them and become unclean- and yet Jesus went to them and touched them. A time where, within the church, some attempted to segregate Jews and Gentiles and elevate one over the other, and yet Jesus said there was no difference between Jew or Gentile in his kingdom. Jesus spent an awful lot of time freeing the oppressed. In that regard, Martin Luther King Jr. followed in his footsteps. Giving a voice to the oppressed. 

In other regards, we are now well aware that Martin Luther King Jr. was a flawed man. 

Towards the end of our time together yesterday, our pastor addressed these shortcomings too. He said something profoundly merciful, that will perhaps always stay with me and I want to pass on to you.

“Grace,” he said, “Calls us to come to these things last.”

I immediately thought of myself. I am grateful that my music and writings have touched the hearts and lives of countless people around the world. But I am not without brokenness, shortcomings, flaws and major mistakes. I am grateful that grace calls the listener and reader to these things last. 

I immediately thought of my father’s father. My papaw. In the heart of deep south Mississippi, in a predominately white, segregated town my papaw withstood death threats to his own family to ensure that de-segregation was carried out under his watch. As the superintendent of the Enterprise School District he and our family’s pastor, Brother Thomas Wallace, stood by the front door of the high school for months on end to make sure that all children, regardless of color, were peacefully welcomed into the newly de-segregated school. Much like myself, and Dr. King, my Papaw was a broken man with his own shortcomings, flaws and mistakes. I am grateful that grace calls us to come to these things last. 

I immediately thought of the writings of Brennan Manning that have so deeply influenced my spiritual life. A man whose own alcoholism nearly destroyed him.

I immediately thought of King David, whose poetry and music shape the Old Testament and Moses who led the most oppressed people in history out of slavery. Both men flawed by little things like murder and adultery.  

So today we honor and give thanks for the life work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And while some are quick to denounce the work he has done based on his moral flaws and personal shortcomings, I am not. Thankfully, no person is the sum total of their flaws. 

If I have learned anything in this life, it is this-
There was only one messenger who delivered the message without sin.
Jesus alone was perfect and the rest of us walk with limps. 
I for one am grateful that grace calls people to these things last. 
I for one am grateful for messengers who are used despite their messes. 

More Than Whimsy: Defiant Joy

morethanwhimsy.png

"Sometimes you have to poke holes in the darkness until it bleeds light."
-Margaret Feinberg, Fight Back with Joy

As many of you know, 2014 was the hardest year of my life. This is almost comical since I began 2014 with an endeavor to finish my first book- a book about the pathway to new life in the face of what I assumed had already been the hardest year of my life. Boy was I wrong. The thefts, fire and subsequent near bankruptcy in 2010 that left my husband and I, and our band, Addison Road, unable to move forward in our music and ministry was nothing compared to this past year.

2014. A year where my Mamaw stared at me and asked me who I was and why I was in her bedroom and my heart crumpled. A year where my grandpa's legs slowly decayed while his mind, spirit and heart only fought harder to love us well before he died. A year where my baby sister announced she was having identical, twin girls, Maggie and Ellen. And the year that we buried them. 26 weeks old, fully-formed and more beloved than we could have ever dreamed. There was also the whole: Ryan's complicated back surgery, our rental home being condemned with black mold, my diagnosis with asthma, the unexpected death of a precious friend and the paperwork that came through and finally confirmed what I had known for a while (but refused to believe) that I had lost my record deal and publishing contract of over eight years.

It was the most painful year. By Thanksgiving my mom announced that if anything else bad happened in the family, she would be bringing a priest to the house to start performing general exorcisms on all of us. Just in case. My friend Matt suggested the same thing in jest, "Maybe you guys have generational curses?" My friend Missy said, "You are not moving into a new house until we all come out and pray over it. Seriously. Just in case."  And when I asked my soul-therapist, Al, if we were cursed he answered by saying "You know it seems to me your family just gets a little more than it's fair share of crazy." 2014 was bitter, hard, gritty, painful and often downright unbearable.

And in the same breath- in the most unexpected, unexplainable, un-cliche way I can possibly muster- there was joy. Deep, abiding, nonsensical, powerful JOY. At the park, around the table, moments after the babies died, at the funerals, in the hotel rooms, long car rides, hospital rooms, driving Annie to school, watching the birds out my window, deep down in my soul after all my cussing diatribes and foolish I-give-up-on-living temper tantrums... there was joy unexplainable. 

I didn't have the words for it then, but I do now, because a woman I so love and admire finally penned them during her own season of unbearable pain. "More than whimsy," Margaret Feinberg says in her new book Fight Back with Joy, "Joy is a weapon we can use to fight life's battles."

Joy... a weapon? Absolutely. Not the fluffy, easily thrown about sentiments that we Christians are so polished in handing out. The "Everything is wonderful! God is good all the time- all the time God is good! Oh, this ole' cancer? These ole' babies dying? Just be happy-God's got it!" While pithy statements may feel nice to say in the moment of suffering- they oversimplify the fight for "honest, real, gritty, messy and lasting joy—the one that people rarely talk about." Joy in the midst of suffering looks less like camp chants and more like this gritty, messy, honest joy that Margaret Feinberg describes from the over 400 references of joy found in scripture.

The miracle of my 2014? Joy. That joy is possible in the midst of the most dark moments speaks to the heart of our Savior's loving, redemptive nature. It is, as Margaret says, our heritage, purpose and destiny.

"When we fight back with joy, we declare that the darkness does not win," Margaret says, "Joy can change unchangeable circumstances. No matter what your circumstances are, you can practice defiant joy."

Never have I picked up a book and through tears and laughter (by page 5!) said, "YES- this is how I want to live. This is who I want to be. This is how I want to fight back." But this is that book for me. And if you or anyone you love has experienced a year like we did in 2014, I so hope you will get a copy of this book or join with friends over this 6-week bible study written by a fellow fighter and begin to discover how joy is the absolute best weapon we possess in the face of our hardest battles, deepest trenches and darkest moments.  

Joy is the sacred jingle of God within you.
Joy emanates out of the abiding sense of God's fierce love for us.

-Margaret Feinberg
Fight Back with Joy is available on Amazon