Thursday, November 19, 2015

Imperfect People. Imperfect Christians.

with guest blogger Julie Cantrell.

When I was younger, I looked at the members of my church as fine, upstanding Christian folks. They were the morally upright. The light in the darkness. The clean, sober, freshly-pressed, Rated-G version of humanity. And that was the way we were all supposed to behave. Christ-like. Holy. Sinless. 

But then I grew up, and I realized that all those shiny, perfect people were not so perfect after all. Some were closet drinkers and backyard swearers. Others were wife beaters and porn addicts. A few were substance abusers. A lot were cheaters, liars, and cons. None were without sin.

Some had no more love in their hearts than the devil himself. And this realization left a sour taste in my mouth for the church. Were Christians a bunch of hypocrites? Shouting Amen on Sunday morning after all commandments had been broken the other six days of the week? If so, I wanted nothing to do with such falsities and bigotry. I turned away from the church for many years, and my stomach churned each time I’d hear a Hallelujah!

But then I grew up some more. And I came full circle. I came to realize that, yes, our pews are filled with imperfect people. We are sinners, all of us. Some drinkers, some cheaters, some liars, some abusers, but what a wonderful thing that the church opens its doors to such messy, broken, lost souls every week!

We are, in fact, broken and lost. The whole bunch of us. Even those of us who think we have it all figured out. We are seekers. We are all still searching for answers, truth, hope. For love.

As I’ve matured beyond the age during which I judged those well-intentioned hypocrites in the pews, I’ve come to accept a hard truth about myself. I’m not perfect either. I’m a sinner too. 

I may not have a porn addiction. I may not abuse drugs. I may not steal or cheat or beat my loved ones. But I fail daily to live as Christ intended us to live. I make mistakes and missteps, and for that I need a daily dose of Grace.

I do sometimes hurt people with my words, even if I don’t mean my sentences to be interpreted that way. I sometimes exaggerate, even when I intend to be completely honest. And I have been known to raise my voice when I get pushed too far. I always feel like a horrible human being when I yell at someone I love. It is horrible. It’s beyond horrible. I know better. I want to do better. But sometimes,  I yell. 

Maybe this means I have no right to sit in that pew on Sunday mornings at the Oxford University United Methodist Church. Maybe that bad word I let slip last week is enough to have me banned. Maybe that comment I made to my best friend tilted just a little too much into the realm of gossip, and for that, I have no right to call myself a Christian. Maybe that second scoop of ice cream made me a glutton. Yes, I’m sure. It did.

Where do we draw the line? 

I want and I NEED to be in that pew not because I am perfect. But because I am IMPERFECT. I am flawed and flailing and I need all the help I can get as I carry this little soul through this great big world. 

Life is hard, and if it hasn’t swept the floor out from under you yet, just wait. It will. Why?
Because that’s what this journey is about. We suffer. And in the suffering, we discover our true selves. We ache and we lose and we grieve and we struggle, and it is in that horrifically painful crucifixion of our souls that we get to choose. We can choose God (love), and therefore be redeemed. Renewed. Reborn. Or we can chose hate (evil), in which case we stay lost. Dead. Empty.

To every lying, cheating, stealing, drinking, drugging, gambling, back-talking, foul-mouthed, hateful-hardened soul, I hope to see you in church this Sunday. And I hope you’ll choose love. 

And to all you perfect people who never have sinned, I hope you’ll welcome us there with a great, big soulful Hallelujah. And I hope you’ll chose love, too.


Let’s chat: How has your view of the church changed throughout your life? Have you ever been discouraged by the church community? Encouraged? Do you view organized religion in a positive or negative light? Why?

Today Seekerville is honored to give two readers the chance to read their choice of an ecopy of Into the Free or When Mountains Move. Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.

In January, The Feathered Bone releases. You can preorder it today!

“Feathers—no matter what size or shape or color—are all the same, if you think about them. They're soft. Delicate. But the secret thing about feathers is . . . they are very strong.”

In the pre-Katrina glow of New Orleans, Amanda Salassi is anxious about chaperoning her daughter’s sixth grade field trip to the Big Easy during Halloween. And then her worst fears come true. Her daughter’s best friend, Sarah, disappears amid the magic and revelry—gone, without a trace.

Unable to cope with her guilt, Amanda’s daughter sinks in depression. And Amanda’s husband turns destructive as he watches his family succumb to grief. Before long, Amanda’s whole world has collapsed.

Amanda knows she has to save herself before it’s too late. As she continues to search for Sarah, she embarks on a personal journey, seeking hope and purpose in the wake of so much tragedy and loss.

Set amidst the murky parishes of rural Louisiana and told through the eyes of two women who confront the darkest corners of humanity with quiet and unbreakable faith, The Feathered Bone is Julie Cantrell’s master portrait of love in a fallen world.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julie Cantrell has served as editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review and is a recipient of the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship. She has contributed to more than a dozen books in addition to her two children’s books and award-winning novels.

Her debut novel, Into the Free, received the Christy Award for Book of the Year (2013) as well as the Mississippi Library Association’s Fiction Award. It earned a rare starred review by Publishers Weekly and was selected as one of five finalists for the University of Mississippi Common Reading Experience 2014. It also was selected as a Best Read of the year by LifeWay, USA TODAY, and many bookclubs. 

Cantrell’s sophomore novel, When Mountains Move, is the sequel to her debut. Since its release in September 2013, it has been named a 2013 Best Read by LifeWay, was shortlisted for several awards, and won the 2014 Carol Award for Historical Fiction. Her third novel, The Feathered Bone, will release January 2016.

Learn more:


  1. Maybe you think I left the church I grew up in was because I felt that the others were hypocrites. Maybe you think I was awful for doing it. Maybe I should have stayed, but I do know I will never go back to it, because if the decision to leave it wasn't enough of a feeling of absolute freedom that I never felt while following all the rules and doing my best to please everyone, each and every step I took to further myself has given me another taste of heaven. I am glad that not all our journeys are the same, and I'm glad that The Father knows each one of us intimately and knows where we are on that journey. I did enjoy your post, because I know where you are speaking from, and though the devil tried to sneak guilt in ther, My Saviour was right there as well. Thanks you for the chance to win your books. I would love to read them.

  2. I enjoyed your post, Julie, and have had similar struggles with the traditional church. I've come to believe that when we give our lives to Jesus, He sets out to mold us into His image and make us truly His disciples. It's a lifelong process and He pours lots of Love and attention into every detail. A lot of it is not fun and involves much falling down and getting up. It involves opportunities for hurt, offense, disillusionment, disappointment and did I say offense? We become more like Jesus by going through some of the things He did here on earth, and by clinging to His grace, mercy and Love in the middle of it all. We forgive and are forgiven. Jesus heals our hearts where it's been broken. He knows what that's like.

    I will say that true Christian fellowship happens in all kinds of places, and not just on Sunday morning. God loves us and meets us where we are. But it's my heart conviction that God himself established "the church" even though it can appear that the humans are running it. Really, they are not. Jesus is Head of the Church.

    We need each other. Like the thumb needs the pinky, and the heart needs the brain.

    God bless you. Keep walking with Jesus. And keep writing.

    Oh, and I have to say..... those are some beautiful curls God gave you.


  3. What a beautiful, heart-stirring post. Thank you, Julie! Thank you for sharing your heart and your soul and touching a chord. Your words have given us so much to ponder, about choices made and not made. You've blessed us today.

  4. I can't say I ever left a church because I saw so may hypocrites, coming and worshiping on Sunday, then doing things they shouldn't do the rest of the week. Those were the people I tried to pray more for because I saw them not much different than me, someone needing a daily dose of grace, and I can always use whatever prayer anyone would like to give for me. However, I have left churches if I didn't feel the messages were feeding me. I believe one can go to church each week, enjoy the environment and people, but if they aren't being nourished by the Word, they should go somewhere where the Word spoken will touch you deep and start feeding and healing you. When I lived in California I changed churches a couple of times because I didn't feel they were the right church for me.

    I would love to be entered to win either of your books. Thank you for the chance.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  5. Welcome back to Seekerville, Jule.

    Lots to think about in this post, and sadly enough the gap between myself and the church has always been that I didn't feel worthy of that pew. But, oh, that God, he figures that out right away for us.

  6. BTW, I love the continuity of your cover look.

    Looking forward to another Julie Cantrell release!

  7. Oooh, new Julie Cantrell book!! Happy day!!!

    Let's see. It's funny to think about it but when I was younger, I really thought most of my fellow church goers were pretty near perfect. Especially the older, calmer married couples. I'd see them line up at confession and wonder WHAT ON EARTH they could possibly be confessing. I mean, by that point, old and married and pot-bellied, there wasn't much left to do wrong, right?

    Oh, how I want to pat that younger me on the head and tell her how adorable she is.

    Beautiful post, Julie. Your writing always reminds me of that Thoreau quote: "It is life near the bone where it is sweetest." You're never a surface skimmer, but go deep, down to the bone with your words.

  8. Great post! I don't remember ever feeling that way but the hero of one of my works-in-progress certainly does, so this is very useful. And I do think that some churches/church members are more about showing up and showing off on Sundays, and not bothering much about God the rest of the week. That's the trouble with organized religion (or anything, really) - once you get people involved, they're just going to mess it up! So you do have to find the right kind of church, the kind that knows it's a hospital for sinners not a showplace for saints. Thanks for sharing :)

    Pam Jernigan

  9. thanks for this post Julie. I have a soft spot in my heart for people who have left Christ because of the actions of Church People. I've experienced yucky stuff at Churches and great stuff as well. My mom always taught us to NOT look at the people, but to keep our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith. He's never failed me (even when I thought He did). I always try to reach out to the people who've been hurt by the Church. I also always admit that I'm the last person to be "preaching" to them because I am so well aware of my short-comings. I just don't want them to miss out on the Love. That is my take-away from your post. Don't miss out on the Love. Choose it.


  10. Whew --- y'all are off to an early start this morning. It looks like I can't reply to each person individually, so I'll try to just chime in every now and then and hope that works.

    First of all, thanks for inviting me to join y'all on Seekerville today, and thanks to everyone who is joining the conversation. Honored to be with y'all.

    Marianne, "I am glad that not all our journeys are the same, and I'm glad that The Father knows each one of us intimately and knows where we are on that journey." Indeed! And for the record, I don't think any of the things about you that you mentioned. Everyone has a story. And there is no shame or guilt allowed, if you ask me. Sadly, in many cases, Church has driven people away from what we call "Christianity." You are no alone in feeling judged or pressured by the rules and conditions that are far too frequently imposed. Hugs and grace to you, and thanks for sharing.

    Terrie: "...true Christian fellowship happens in all kinds of places, and not just on Sunday morning." Good point! And thanks for the sweet comment about my hair. Go with the fro!

    Ruth: "Your words have given us so much to ponder, about choices made and not made." Thank you! And yes, it all comes down to our choices, doesn't it. And boy, oh boy, do they matter. But the good news is, there is always a way to redeem ourselves. Love!

    Cindy: "I have left churches if I didn't feel the messages were feeding me." Excellent way to phrase it. May be the reason Jesus focused on "feeding" his disciples as his last act of grace. He wanted to feed our souls.

    Tina: "I didn't feel worthy of that pew." Amen! None of us are, and yet, that's the beauty of grace. And thanks for noticing my new covers. HarperCollins/Thomas Nelson has done an incredible job repackaging the originals. Yay!

    Mary Jane: "Your writing always reminds me of that Thoreau quote: "It is life near the bone where it is sweetest." You're never a surface skimmer, but go deep, down to the bone with your words." OH! MY! This has got to be the best compliment I've ever received. Powerful. Thank you! And yes, those old perfect couples had a few secrets up their sleeves, too, didn't they? Funny!

    And "Unknown" (but oh you ARE known by the one who matters:) : "find the right kind of church, the kind that knows it's a hospital for sinners not a showplace for saints." To that, I say Amen!

    Hugs and happy Thursday to all of you.

  11. I grew up going to church each Sunday, attending Bible school and active in youth groups. I also believed all of the adults were perfect and if I continued going to church, I'd be perfect too. What was I thinking? Spending an hour each week in a building doesn't make us perfect. Those who believe that are the biggest problem with the church today. Now, older and somewhat wiser, I love that my church is open 24/7.
    Congratulation on your latest release, Julie!

  12. Jill, such wise words. We're all so imperfect, and I love that God loves us anyway. And that he sees the striving heart.

    What a smart (and stinkin' beautiful!!!) woman you are.

  13. Deb H, "Don't miss out on the love..." Smiling.

    Because that's so important. Faith brings us to that love. Not religion. That simple, true faith, believing when so much around us tells us not to.

    Your words are an anointing.

  14. HELLO JULIE! I am SO grateful for my church family. We are ALL in a process of transformation. We need to be gentle with each other.

    Please put me in the drawing for today.

  15. Loved this post. Made me stop and think. For years after I left home, I couldn't find a "home-church". You know, that place where you feel wanted and missed when you aren't there. I finally found my "home-away-from-home-church" 8 years ago now. I am so glad God led me there! I always thought the Pastor was different, that he never doubted, never had questions, that he had "an in" with God. Our pastor now, makes sure we know he's human just like us, that he struggles. His message lately is poking, prodding, and provoking us to have a closer relationship with God. Anybody can have religion; it's the relationship you need. I thank God every day for my church family. None of us are perfect, but we need each other. We need to be encouraged, lifted up, told the truth, so that one day we can see Him. God will lead you to the church He has for you. You just have to listen.

  16. Ahhh... such gems from Jill: "I love that my church is open 24/7."
    Caryl: "We are ALL in a process of transformation. We need to be gentle with each other."
    Sally: "Anybody can have religion; it's the relationship you need."
    All wrapped up by Ruth: "Don't miss out on the love..."

    Keep it coming, Ladies. Y'all are changing the world with your great, big, open hearts.


  17. Hi Julie:

    You asked:

    "Let’s chat: How has your view of the church changed throughout your life?"

    I'm old enough to have seen many changes.

    First a story:

    An old man, back before the automobile, left his small village for good. He walked and walked and very tired he finally came to a village he didn't know. Another old man was sitting outside on his porch. The traveler approached and asked straight out.

    "Mister, I'm looking for a new place to call home. What kind of people live in this town?"

    "Well, that depends,"
    the other old man said, "what were the people like where you came from?"

    "Why they were liars, cheats, fornicators, gamblers, thieves, hypocrites, backstabbers, and overall pretty much downright nasty."

    "Well, mister, then I think you'll find folks just like that here, too."


    In the East they have a saying: "We see what is behind our eyes."


    Now I go to church to praise the Lord. Not to get anything for myself.

    God knows what is best. God knows our prayers before we say them. God created each of us in His image and that is how I choose to see others, all others: as children of God.

    People go to Church for as many different reasons as there are people. I go to church not because other people are there but because God is there. As a Unity believer, I see people's souls and not their imperfections. I think in terms of positive affirmations. For many things in life, it is often true that 'thinking makes it so'.

    I think the real meaning of 'no limits' is to see God in all things -- to see the potential, not the shortcomings -- to keep one's eye on the blessings -- not the failings -- to love because love is grace -- not to fill a human emptiness.

    Church does not change; people do not change; what changes is our frame of reference.

    A philosopher once said that a people always get the kind of religion they deserve. In a way, we create much of the world we live in. Even for the part of the world we do not create, we are still free to choose how we react to it. It is our reactions to that part of the world that we did not create that determines the quality and blessings of our life.

    The kingdom of Heaven is within and blessed are those who have the wisdom to experience it in this life.

    Love God
    Trust God
    See God in others
    and Praise the Lord.


    Sermon over. : )

    BTW: as a long time marketing person, I really love your three book covers! If I saw those three books covers, distributed randomly on a thirty foot long Walmart bookshelf display, I could pick all three books out as being part of a series from 20 feet away. And the look and feel of those covers project an image of a premium high quality book. I fully expected these books to be in the $9.99 category on Amazon for the Kindle.

    I salute your marketing people!

    Please place me in your drawing for a book. I'd love to see how your characters react to their world. I'd also like to know to what degree they have created their own problems.


  18. Welcome to Seekerville, Julie. Thanks for your transparency, for sharing your spiritual journey. I don't expect perfection from Christians. The church is the family of God coming together in the hospital for the soul. Thank you, Jesus, we're covered with His grace and beautiful in His sight.


  19. Thanks Julie for this insightful post. My husband and I are looking for a new church right now. Nothing's wrong with the old one. We just got stuck in the "retirement" set and we've changed. We want to get into a local missions/volunteering group.

  20. Vince, you're speaking my language. "God created each of us in His image and that is how I choose to see others, all others: as children of God." YES!

    Janet: Transparency is my "thang." I aim to keep it real, even if that means revealing the ugliest parts of me, and there are a plenty!

    Elaine: I love that you're wanting to be more involved in missions and volunteering. An ACTIVE faith. Beautiful.

    DebH: I'm sorry I'm just seeing your comment. "That is my take-away from your post. Don't miss out on the Love. Choose it." YAY!!!! Mission Accomplished :) XOXO, j

    I'm digging you Seekerville peeps. Nice tribe!

  21. HI Julie Oh my, you just told my story too. I grew up in the church, but as a teen began to see and experience the hypocrisy. So I committed my own sin and judged them all and left the church. chuckle. Hindsight is so fun.

    In my forties when I finally admitted I couldn't live without the Lord and turned back to Him, I didn't find Him in church. He came to me in the park through a wonderful evangelist friend. That friend suggested I go to church and I resisted for a year. One thing he told me finally resonated. "Church is like a hospital. You need the healthy people there to help the sick."

    Well, that helped a lot and I finally did as Vincej suggested and started looking at the God in each and every one of them.

    I guess we do get a little wiser in our old age. smile

    Thanks so much for the post. Like others have said your covers are super. Have fun today.

  22. Sandra --- love that you didn't find "God" in church but in a park! Beautiful. And thanks to all of you for noticing my newly designed covers. David C. Cook did a wonderful job the first go round, but now that they are being re-released by HarperCollins/Thomas Nelson, it's fun to see a refreshing twist. Like a new coat of paint. Just makes me happy.


  23. Julie, what a beautiful post! And such truth in your words. Church is for the imperfect people. So we can find grace and mercy in time of need. So we can learn about the amazing, passionate love God has for each of His children. And learn to walk in it. I've been fortunate that the churches I have attended over the years have been grace-filled churches. God's places "real" people around me. We deal with lies we acquired in our growing up years, we pray for each other and learn to walk in His truths.

    Thank you for the reminder, Julie, to show Jesus' love to those in our body who are struggling with the "big" issues.

  24. Julie, I wouldn't worry about being greeted by perfect people in Heaven. There aren't that many.
    I believe this world is a practice field or a proving ground for the next. That has helped me to take the long view, especially of other Christians.
    Kathy Bailey


    You asked: "How has your view of the church changed throughout your life?"

    Well, I went from wanting to burn any Bible placed in a hotel room by a Gideon in my agnostic phase (ages 21-23) ... to being on fire for God when I became a born-again Christian at the age of 23, so he changed my "view" and my life COMPLETELY, taking me from the dark into His glorious Light.

    But your second question -- have you ever been discouraged by the church community? -- hits very close to home, as I suspect it will for everyone who professes Jesus as Lord. Two of the most painful times I can remember when godly woman whom I admired greatly hurt me terribly. One was a prayer partner with whom I prayed about all my deepest hurts and trials, one of which was my emotional struggle with another friend. Regrettably, this prayer partner betrayed my confidence with this other friend, using the things I said in confidence/prayer to shore up her own viewpoint in an argument with this same friend of mine. It caused great damage between me and this friend I was having issues with, but God is faithful and has healed that relationship since. However, I ended the relationship with that prayer partner and have been praying for her ever since, hoping to get past my own anger and unforgiveness, which I believe I have.

    The second situation was a lot more embarrassing. A highly respected women's minister whom I wasn't close friends with but still held in great esteem, singled me out in the audience during one of her speaking engagements. She proceeded to tell me that the Holy Spirit has revealed something amiss in me, and she wanted me to pray that He would reveal it to me as well without her having to do so. I remember being completely stunned that not only would she embarrass me in front of others, but never tell me what this "thing" was so I could correct it. I felt it showed great disrespect, not only to me, but to her audience and the Holy Spirit, so I never went to another one of her speaking engagements again. I had to pray for years to forgive this woman and move on, which I believe I have.

    We have all been wounded by other Christians, which reminds me of a saying I heard once that says something to the effect of, "Christians are the only species that eat their young ..." In fact, I think that's one of satan's favorite pastimes -- dividing the Church within itself.

    Very thought-provoking post, Julie -- THANK YOU!


  26. I loved this article. I remember during my twenties when I wasn't living right, thinking I shouldn't go to church because it would be hypocritical. I knew God had different plans for my life than the way I was living. That was the very time I really needed to be hearing the Word instead of avoiding church. Later when I was back in a congregation, entrenched in church ministry, I had to have a sad chuckle, because I realized the truth your article pointed out. The church is full of sinners who needed encouragement and grace. Sometimes I think we, in the Body, need to be more honest about our struggles, so that others know we're not perfect.
    Thanks for sharing!

  27. Julie, you also asked: "Encouraged?

    I have received much encouragement and love from Christians over the years, but I would have to say the most powerful time was from the woman who brought me to Christ. Though I was a loud, crude, hard agnostic who would scream at her whenever she tried to talk to me about Christ, she maintained a calm and love I have seldom ever seen. It was clearly God's unconditional love I saw in her eyes, and it was that same love that saved me, changed me, healed me from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. Her name is Joy, and never was anyone more appropriately named!


  28. Ha!!! I love this, Julie!!! Yesterday I got behind a car with a bunch of bumper stickers that said, among other things, that all Christians were haters and hypocrites. It was weird. She had about 6 bumper stickers with lines about how Christians don't believe in helping the poor. That Obama was not foreign-born like Christians claim, but Jesus was. It made me feel . . . hated. I wonder if she realizes that what she's accusing Christians of--hating--was what she was doing. Probably not. We never see ourselves in a completely true light because we're just human. Flawed and not very astute when it comes to judging ourselves. It's true of both Christians and nonChristians. The main difference is that Christians love God and trust Him, as well as we're able, to save us from our ugliness. Thank you, Jesus! I need you to save me, and you're willing to do it. I am so grateful.

  29. And my thoughts about the church have evolved very similarly to yours. I won't expound on that, since I really should be writing right now! But suffice it to say, I am still trying to rid my heart of the guilt and shame instilled in my from an early age. God is willing to forgive me, and already has. I have to accept that forgiveness and give him my guilt and stop carrying it around like it's going to make me more righteous. LOL!

  30. I have always been a pretty traditional church goer and haven't let other people in church make me feel like leaving. But I have certainly been bothered by church politics etc. You have given us lots to think about.

    Please enter me in the drawing for either book. They all look good.

  31. I guess I've seen about any aspect of church you can describe. I've been disappointed, encouraged, loved, and about everything in between. But when I've changed churches, it's been because my husband left a church to pastor another. :)

  32. Jeanne T: I'm thrilled to hear you have found "grace-filled churches" that have soothed your soul. Here's hoping everyone can find such a place. There are many to be found.

    Kaybee: I love your spunky sense of humor. I feel your vibe, and I too believe "this world is a practice field or a proving ground for the next." We're all just children.

    Julie: Thanks for the warm welcome and for sharing your own scars. I'm so sorry you were hurt by a couple of people in your church community. It sounds like they caused tremendous pain in your life, and I'm grateful to hear some of those healthy relationships have been restored and the unhealthy ones released (and forgiven). Wounds. The ache is real. And I am happy you have found healing and peace. Isn't it interesting how we manage to survive things we never thought we could? One day, we look back and realize... We did it! We are stronger than we think we are. Here's to JOY and all the sweet souls like hers.

    Melanie: Bumper stickers!! Nuff Said :) And keep writing, my friend!

    Sandy, you're entered! Thanks for joining us. Good luck!


  33. Thank you for this inspiring post, Julie! As Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”

  34. Each new Christian coming into a church needs nurturing, like a newborn child, because all of us sitting in church are at different walks in our journey with Christ. I am so thankful Christ found me and has never given up on me even when I fail him. Oh if only people within the church could open their lives to each other and let Christ's healing begin. Then, when we are pure and strong, he can use us to show the rest of the world his love. I wasn't raised in church and came to Christ as an adult. I have a ways to go with him, but I know it is only when the imperfect people sitting in the church surrender to his will for their lives that we in this country will begin to see radical change. Love this post - so relevant today.

  35. I loved this post. I have both the books on my e-reader all ready so don't enter me.

    I wrote the "The End" at the end of my Nano book. It ended up being 50,245 words. I am feeling happy, and excited that I could write that many words in just 19 days. Thank you all for the encouragement.

  36. That is wonderful Wilani!! I am so proud of you!! Way to go!!

  37. Wilani!!! You amaze me!!! I'm looking to you for inspiration as I try to finish my fourth novel. Whew...Impressive!

    Myra, Truth!
    Linda, Journeyers, yes, all of us.
    Helen, I love hearing your perspective from the "inside" of ministry.
    And Sally --- we all need a cheerleader. Love that!!

    Thanks for joining us!


  38. Hi Julie,
    Thanks for this post. Initially, I wrote a long response to this post, but deleted it. I've had my struggles with conventional church. I attend church to worship. Suffice to say I have a hard time with all the stuff that goes on around it.

    WILANI, Congrats on Nano. That is record breaking speed!

  39. Lyndee, I hear you. You are not alone.

  40. We're all broken, IMHO. Some of us have put the pieces together. Others are still working toward health and well-being. We all come before the Lord in prayer to worship Him. That's church. Worshiping the Almighty in a community of believers...cracked pots who let His light shine through the brokenness.

  41. This comment has been removed by the author.

  42. I wasn't going to mention it, but did Harper purchase your books or did Harper purchase David C Cook? Either way, great covers.

  43. Linda Truesdell! I have been trying to reach you.

    Drop me a line @

    Great to see you today!

  44. Debby, as always, beautifully said.

  45. You asked....Where do we draw the line?

    At one scoop of ice cream? Say it ain't so!!!! lol :)

    I'm watching a young person now who grew up surrounded by Christians, some who struggled with a few of the things you mentioned, and the young person didn't seem to want any part of that for a while, but now, I see a change. A change that says they understand that Christians fail, Christians struggle, Christians aren't all always perfect and what they portray on Sunday morning. But Jesus is still drawing, wooing, and holding out his arms to all of us... the one who freely admits to being a sinner, and the one who hides sin under that holier-than-thou cloak.

    PS... I don't know if Julie will stop back in again tonight, but I wanted to share something that happened recently at the Mississippi Book Festival. Julie and I were both on author panels that weekend, and the volunteers were driving us to the Eudora Welty House and Gardens on Friday evening. On the way back to my hotel, I asked my driver who she most hoped to meet that weekend, and she said Julie Cantrell.

    Low and behold, Julie was one of the first people I saw when we walked into the hotel, and I introduced them, and asked Julie if I could take their picture together. Then I sent it to the other gal. She was SO excited. Meeting Julie was just what she'd hoped for, and by volunteering, her wish came true. :)

  46. Powerful post, Julie - - thank you for sharing your heart with us.
    Although I've also been saddened and disillusioned by some in the church (not personally, but people I've known about or read about) I try very hard to keep my focus on The ONE I'm worshipping, knowing that yes--we are all sinners who need Him.
    Blessings, Patti Jo

  47. We all have such interesting stories which just goes to show that our God is merciful and awesome. There is no way we are going to figure it out so like so many of you said, it just makes sense to stay focused on HIm. smile

    Thanks for a thought provoking day Julie.

  48. Hi Julie,

    Thanks for stopping by. I remember once somebody telling me the church is for sinners. That's always stuck with me.

    You nailed me on the gossip. Yesterday at work one of the techs asked why we hadn't seen a customer for a while. I told him he'd been arrested for ***. I felt guilty as soon as the words slipped out of my mouth, and followed up with, "It's not gossip because it was in the newspaper." Then I felt worse. So yes I'll be in church as a sinner this Sunday. We serve an awesome God who'll let us ask for forgiveness and worship Him.

    Have a great day!

  49. Lyndee, I love the simplicity of faith as opposed to the complexities of church, and it's hard to find a place to worship that reflects all of us... but gosh if we can find a place that reflects most of how we feel, BONUS!!!!

    We're so human. And that can be our downfall or our promise. I know what you mean about deleting the long post! :)

    Bless you.

  50. My view of church has changed as we made a big move from a BIG Vineyard to a small Reformed church. I have learned about community here. I have learned that people consider it an honor to walk through things with you, and I appreciate that. I love that people pray for us. I also love that they have needs and I can be a part of helping them. It is good.
    Thanks for the chance to win one of your books.

  51. We often have to remind ourselves that our home church is made up of people hurting from sin. Thanks for such a thought-provoking post. Blessings.