Where Can I Meet Up with You?

The feedback loop is what matters. You, the reader, and I, the author, connecting. Sharing stories. Mine, yes, but yours too.

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I'm out on the town or out on the road a lot these days, talking about feeling fireproof and then being set free, admitting years of being racist, judgmental, tired and cranky, confessing that I wasn't so sure if this life with Jesus was all that it's supposed to be... until I encountered laughing Jesus. And I'm interacting with readers -- hallelujah! Finally, after three and a half years of being cooped up trying to fling these stories out of my head, out beyond the defense mechanisms and fear factor, into the world, I am hanging out with people. One friend said, "The book is now a book-end, containing others' stories too." I love that.

Why did I write a book? "Because somebody had to go first." That's what I say when asked. That and being pretty sure that others might be encouraged by some of my stories of God's fiery love and pursuit. 

If I tell mine, maybe you'll tell yours. If you see that I am surviving vulnerability, then maybe you'll risk it. Cause when we risk letting others know who we are, we are less alone.

And every person we meet shows us something new about God.

Anyway, the book is prompting some good conversation. People have a lot they want to talk about. Sometimes they just need to be asked. And I love asking.

So I'm doing that in (so far) DC, Maryland, Virginia ("DMV" we call it locally, collectively, though I'm also going beyond the DC area to Richmond and Roanoke), North Carolina (Charlotte, Raleigh), South Carolina (Spartanburg, Aiken), Tennessee (Nashville, Bristol), Georgia (Atlanta, Athens, Gainesville), West Virginia (Wheeling) with expected, though as yet unscheduled, stops in Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco Bay area, Carmel, CA, to name a few.

Events we've had and those planned have a few different formats, but I'm open to others: 

  • Someone invites friends to their home or a room in their apartment building or office, tells me what theme in the book they'd like me to focus on, and then I facilitate conversation for that group of friends (with the hope that they will go forward into something deeper and ideally even into neighbor-loving action together).
  • A bookstore hosts an author event, with me reading a selection or two, speaking briefly, fielding questions.
  • A church asks me to come in and speak about a theme in the book (risking engaging the poor, openness ot the "other," naming our "current spiritual location," the "both/and" of life (joy and suffering), the value of disruption, learning to hear and heed God's voice (as opposed to the voices of our various subcultures), love beyond romance, owning our passions and purpose, answering the questions people are asking in the name of Love.
  • A book club invites me to come to a session where they do what they usually do, but with my book. (So far I've been spared the "I hated this book; what was this author thinking?" conversations).
  • A church asks me to lead multiple weeks on Biblical passages and themes related to the book.
  • A (good) friend has a party to celebrate the book -- with a bit of reading, a bit of conversation about process and motivation and a little "How'd you finally do what you said you'd do when you were 10?" thrown in for good measure.
  • A library invites me to a book conversation over lunch.

Invite me somewhere. Or join me somewhere. Check out the calendar of where I'm going (and where I've already been) and use the form there to contact me about your event.


Means and Ends

The book journey is just beginning. And I was tempted to think that finishing it was an ending.

Putting on a book launch party was a lot of fun. I gathered random food products mentioned in the book (Red Bull, Twinkies, marshmallows, animal crackers). I chose people for everyone who attended to meet, in the spirit of one of the book's themes of taking risks on strangers, and I wrote the assignments on personalized index cards. I had fun procuring and setting up the food, drinks, and books to be signed.

What sticks with me, however, from the day spent doing errands in preparation, is an elderly, disheveled lady in a chair at the back of my local pharmacy. She was there when I came breezing in, giddy with excitement over "my" book's release, two different times an hour apart. She was awake once, asleep the next time. Both times she looked weary, care-worn, and not likely to be hosting or going to a party that night. 

And I can't stop thinking about her because the book isn't about having a party to celebrate a finished product. The book is about that lady and all the other ones we are tempted to pass by because we have important business or are in a rush. The book is for the people I wrote about — Charles who asked me to eat breakfast with him and who nibbled a giraffe animal cracker as he slipped in and out of clarity, Nicole whom my friend Joey and I found drunk on all fours downtown and ferried home, people I've misjudged and critiqued, and those I've yet to meet. The book is about what God is doing with all of us who are willing to let him mess with us — changing us, transforming us, slowing us down to see each other. The book is about love.

It's not an end in itself — a published book from which I can now turn to other projects.

It's simply the means for sharing all of our lives, for hearing your stories, for gathering people together, for challenging all of us to stop for the lonely woman in the chair even when we're excited about our own successes or wrapped up in our own pain.

The book is about whatever happens next. 

Yes, I wrote this book. But only because somebody had to go first.