On Speaking out about Domestic Abuse

I have a weird relationship with speaking out on things. I have no trouble ranting to my friends about things. But actually putting it out into the world of social media isn’t something I usually do. I’ve wanted to write about my experiences at college and some I have, but it’s been a slow process.

I spoke out yesterday when I saw that my former university had asked Saeed Abedini to speak at their chapel service.

If you don’t know, he is a pastor who was imprisoned in Iran for years until being freed earlier this year. His wife, Nagmeh, advocated for his release for years until five months prior to his release, she stopped her advocacy, speaking out about abuse in their marriage and filing for legal separation upon his release.

The church at large has always dealt horribly with domestic abuse, separation and divorce. So many are afraid to speak out in support of one person, they want to see a family unit stable. They think that with God, every marriage can be saved. Some segments of the church think that partners should stay with their unrepentant abusers.

The messages on social media when my friend spoke out were asking for forgiveness and grace for Saeed. That we are all capable of sin. Praying for the reunification of the family. The problem: Saeed does not seem interested in doing what it takes to reunite his family. Nagmeh wants to seek individualized counseling for them both and that was not something Saeed was willing to seek (that’s my understanding at the time of this writing, based on a report from Nagmeh herself). To reunite your family, you HAVE to be be willing to do everything possible to fix not only your marriage but your own flaws, your marriage cannot work otherwise.

I have always had a contrary view of divorce from the christian worldview (because I kinda had to). I see how it is, at times, necessary especially in cases of abuse. Or when a partner does not want to continue the relationship. Separation and divorce is not an easy decision. Leaving is not an easy decision. Often, it comes after years of trying and working hard in your marriage, only to realize there’s no way to make it work anymore. And I’ve only learned this anew over the years. To quote a woman upon her own separation, “You never go into a marriage thinking you’re going to get divorced.”

And I wish more Christians realized that. When I hear Nagmeh’s story and see the people urging her to see her family restored, I think of my Mom. Of my aunts, my best friend and the strong women in my life. I think of them being in a situation like that and hearing those words. It breaks my heart.

So Saeed Abedini, a known abuser spoke at Liberty University. But I guess it’s ok because he spoke on the persecuted church. I guess it’s ok because they prayed for his family. I guess it’s ok because his wife’s story of abuse doesn’t matter– we have to pay attention to his side of the story, right?

I hope one day, this kind of thing no longer happens in the church, because it’s the opposite of everything God stands for.

Recommended reading: A former professor of mine wrote an article about the christian double standard of how they treat domestic abuse, which I highly recommend.

When this is my Out of Sorts story

I was afraid but now I am me.

I love Sarah Bessey’s work. I found her blog in 2013, as I was beginning to understand that being a Christian feminist was possible. For many years, I’d embraced being very pro-women in many respects but never thought calling myself a feminist was ok. I had seen just how powerful, lovely and capable women are. And I was confused at why they weren’t allowed at pulpits, why I almost never saw them on stage at chapel and why there was only one woman in the Biblical Studies department (who taught a women’s only version of an evangelism class).

I went into Christian college knowing I didn’t fit with their ideals, knowing I probably wouldn’t fit with the theology of many of the people there. And at first, I was ok with that. But then it began to get to me. In my weakest points, I felt like I didn’t fit. Because I struggled with my assignments and didn’t want to leave the school engaged. Because I believed that women should be on the chapel stage just as much as men. (Aside: when I told a male classmate this, he said it was harder for men to relate to women. How do you think I feel buddy?)

But it was in one class where I embraced that I was a feminist. Because with every piece of theology I was presented, with every piece of worldview I was supposed to hold onto as a good christian, I found myself almost always believing the opposite and yet I still loved Jesus just as much. I believed women had as much rights as men and that egalitarianism was okay, that it was the best fit for me. I believed that we needed to listen to scientists when it came to climate change, instead of dismissing it. I believed that we needed to treat the LGBT community with respect and love, rather than shaming them or deliberately misunderstanding them.

I wish I could tell you that decision made me feel freer, but it didn’t. Not at first. I felt like a fraud, like maybe I wasn’t listening to the voice of The Spirit, but myself. This despite knowing that the whispers to my soul could only come from The Spirit. But now I do. I feel more like myself, like I am capable of loving the way I’m supposed to.

And there are still times I feel out of sorts. There are still things I’m working through. Hearing sermons are still hard. I can’t watch chapel from my old school, and I don’t know if I ever will be able to. I don’t worry, now is not forever in my journey. Instead I go forward, knowing I will go where I am meant to be.

This is a synchopost linking up to Sarah’s blog, in honor of her book release. Check out Sarah’s site and the other stories there. And be sure to check out Sarah’s new book Out of Sorts. My official review will be going up in the next couple days.

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Why I love Out of Sorts

“Once upon a time, you had it all beautifully sorted out.

Then you didn’t.”

Those are the words that beckon you into Bessey’s latest release, Out of Sorts.

I was very excited when I heard the title and synopsis of Sarah’s new book. In my teens and into adulthood, I had progressively felt like I didn’t fit within the sphere of the church. As a teen on a missions trip, I questioned why women couldn’t be leaders and the answers didn’t satisfy me. Actually, when I questioned a lot of theology, most answers didn’t satisfy me.

Sarah doesn’t try to give all the answers. She knows from her own story just how dissatisfying it is, to be given all the right verses. She tells her own story, of growing up in faith as a child and her shift through adulthood. The ways she began to feel out of sorts in church and with theology. And where she is now, the ways she fits and the ways she finds a home.

This book is a breath of fresh air for those of us who feel like we don’t fit into the church anymore. Sarah writes with beauty and grace about faith–why it is important and why we are important. She doesn’t minimize those who question and who struggle, instead saying that we are a strength. These words are a haven to anyone who has ever struggled when their faith has shifted. If you have undergone a shift in faith or love someone who has, this book is perfect for you.

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Here’s a link to order Out of Sorts on amazon or barnes and noble. (If you hail from Canada or the UK, you can find links to order here)

Be sure to check out the resource page, too. Sarah has printable quotes, a playlist and more on her website.

What I’m Into – October

October has always been one of my favorite months. The leaves are changing, it starts getting breezy, there is an abundance of pumpkin, etc. Where I live the leaves are barely changing and the breezy hasn’t cooled down yet but nonetheless it’s been a great month and I’m sad to see it go. This month I’ve gotten to dress up in costume once (as the eleventh doctor from doctor who) and will be dressing up for Halloween (costume tbd), which is always a great mark in my book. Linking up with Leigh, for what I’m into.

What I’m Reading:
-Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (5/5). Must read. What a beautiful and haunting look into the life of a lawyer, trying to find justice and freedom for death row inmates.
-Humans of New York: Stories (5/5). There’s something beautiful about these anthologies, a shared humanity. I loved getting to read the accompanying stores of tragedies, triumphs and hope.
-AD 33 (2/5). I’d been looking forward to this release for a year and was sorely disappointed. I was looking for something new and groundbreaking, which I didn’t find in these pages. The story of Christ’s last week was taken straight from the gospel and it felt like it.
-The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet (5/5). I grew to love Lydia Bennet during the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Mary Kate Wiles performance made me fall in love with this Lydia, gave her depth that the original story can miss. This book was a love letter to the fans who wanted closure to Lydia’s story and it was perfect.
-Out of Sorts (5/5). I’m going to be writing about this more soon but this book is one that found a home in my heart. For anyone who feels they don’t feel they fit in the church, this book is for you.
-For the Love (4/5). I didn’t love everything about this book but I love the way Jen invites us all to use our talents, not to minimize them to fit.
-Something Must Be Done about Prince Edward County (5/5). Documenting the county school shutdown immediately after the Supreme Court’s integration ruling and the effect through the years. Definitely recommend this one.
-Furiously Happy (4/5). I wish I had Jenny’s humor. The way she has me laughing about the things in her life made me feel so much lighter.

I read 13 books this month bringing my total books read to 108. Yep, I crossed my final goal for the year of 100 books read and I’m so happy about it! Keep up with my progress or my reviews over on goodreads.

What I’m Listening to:
-Hamilton. On repeat. I wasn’t sure it would live up to the hype (thanks hipster tendencies) but it did. A historical musical, told through rap. I’m officially obsessed and I don’t care.
-Hello by Adele. Thank you, Adele for coming back and bringing your top notch words into our lives. I’m looking forward to your new album.
-Confident by Demi Lavato. Girl power anthem commence.

What Else I’m Into:
-That Star Wars trailer. :inlove: I watched, I’ve cried. I’ve gone on incoherent speeches about Leia and Han and REY and Finn.
-Definitely bought my premiere tickets already and am in the process of planning my Rey costume.
-The opportunity to dress up twice in one month, both times for work.
-Getting to introduce one of my best friends to Magic Kingdom. We went on the perfect day, there wasn’t a wait time above 45 minutes (which is practically unheard of). Thanks to OUAT, we went to meet Merida and I love her so much. We also met Gaston and he is everything. She very much enjoyed her introduction to the parks, but we definitely collapsed in exhaustion that night.
-We also went to Universal Studios, where we both got to experience Wizarding World for the first time. I miss it already. So much. Take me back and give me butterbeer please. Diagon Alley was fantastic. I loved all the shops, the food, the atmosphere, the puppet show (and did I mention the butterbeer?) I’m so glad I got to experience it for the first time with such a good friend too. Made it even better.

Instagram of the month:
Star Wars mickey ears. I’m still debating whether I should pick up those R2D2 ears, they’re too cute.

Favorite picture with one of my favorite people. 💜

A photo posted by Megan (@girlwithasong) on

Here be Dragons!

A photo posted by Megan (@girlwithasong) on

That’s all for this month. Don’t forget to hop over to Leigh’s blog and check out more of the What I’m Into participants. Coming up next month, I have a couple posts inspired by Sarah Bessey’s new release Out of Sorts. It’s real good.

What I’m Into – August

It has been a beautiful, heavy, horrible month and I’m ever so glad to see it go. The highlight was that my beautiful “nephew” Calvin was born. My friends are now parents, it’s crazy and so so awesome. He’s the cutest ever and I’m so glad he’s here. I love getting pictures of him and seeing just how cute he is. A week later, my beloved pup Gracie passed away. We had her for seventeen years and she was just the best. Even at the end, she was in good health until she wasn’t. I miss her so much.

And so, my month has been filled with grief, loss, pain and as much substance as I could manage (ie: not a lot). It took me a bit to get back into reading. I watched a lot of youtube videos, because that was all I could take. I’m looking forward to September with it’s newness and coming Fall. Linking up with Leigh and the other lovelies to talk about what we’re into.

What I’m Reading:
-Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mendel (5/5). SO GOOD. My favorite book this year. I love the writing style and the way she took the genre.
-Armada by Ernest Cline (3/5). I’d heard mixed reviews prior to picking this up, so I was unsure how I would feel about it. The book felt like a screenplay, to me and I finished reading feeling like I would have preferred it as a movie. As a book, it just didn’t do it for me. It was hard to visualize at times, it fell into too many tropes and it lacked the spirit I loved so much in Ready Player One.
-You’re Never Weird on the Internet by Felicia Day (4/5). My heart wasn’t in it, reading this book. It was the first book I picked up on that terrible week, when I could barely do anything. And it was perfect in the sense that Felicia’s writing style is light and humorous. I liked reading the background of her story and hearing about all the hard work she put into The Guild.
-Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple (4/5). I loved the style of this book, I enjoyed reading through this story.
-Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (4/5). I am Jean Louise, that’s what I came away from this book feeling. I loved this story for what it was, the first drafts of what became To Kill a Mockingbird. I loved the characterizations of Jean Louise, Atticus, Henry and Alexandria. I loved the flashbacks, callbacks and stories. Take into account that this is very much a first draft. It still needs editing in places and I think without that connection to TKAM, it doesn’t stand up as well. But it’s a good little story and a great study.

I’ve read 12 books in August, bringing my total for the year to 88 books. For more books I didn’t mention, check out my goodreads account.

What I’m Listening to:
-Noah Gunderson’s new album is amazing. Halo and Jealous Love are on repeat.
-The playlist of the month is “Gusty Skies” is filled with all kinds of music. Some of my favorites are Make You Better by The Decemberists, Vie En Rose by Pomplamoose and Halo by Noah Gunderson.
-I picked up The Civil Wars “Live with Eddie’s Attic” after years of not listening. Oh boy, so good. The Civil Wars are their prime, when they were just starting.

I’ve got Gungor and Jon Foreman’s latest in my queue, along with Nichole Nordeman’s new ep.

What I’m Watching:
I did not watch a lot this month. Except for Super Mario Wii Let’s Plays. And Taylor Swift’s new video repeatedly.

In my queue: Doctor Who series 8. Mixed feelings about this one. Girl Meets World season 1. I’m excited about this show. I caught episode 1 when the series premiered and liked it. I’m anxious to see what the show grows into.

What Else I’m Into:
-Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. I think I found a new fall drink.
-Oiselle has some of the cutest women’s workout apparel I’ve seen. I have a few of their pieces and just love the colors and fits. This new tank just released. Purple and birds, it’s too much to resist. (No, they didn’t pay me to say this. I just really like their clothing. But if they want to pay me…)
-The end of August is when I start to get achy for Fall. Give me all the pumpkin coffees, candles and recipes. Also the cooler breezes. (To all of you with nice northern summers, I’m sorry.)
-I reached a big personal accomplishment in August and though it’s been hard to celebrate, I’m still glad for it.

I have two favorite photos of the month.

I got up early and was rewarded with a spectacular sunrise. I plan on reuploading this to show the full picture, thanks instagram upgrade!

Up at the crack of dawn has some advantages. #nofilter

A photo posted by Megan (@girlwithasong) on

And here is the last photo I took with my pup. I wanted to have a last photo of our memories. I’m so glad I do. She was the best.

Here’s to a beautiful month of September. There’s a lot for me to look forward to and I’m grateful. I hope this month finds you filled with beautiful moments and favorite activities.

What I’m Into – July

The summer has flown by, I can’t believe it’s almost gone. As a fan of fall, I’m ok with this. I like the idea of summer, but in this space of my life the enchantment doesn’t hold me the same it did as a kid. I’m not in an environment that makes the warmth of the sun and cool breezes a welcome feeling. Instead, there is a strong humidity that clings to everything around it, making you feel as though you’ve walked into a wall of heat upon stepping out your door. I won’t miss that when it leaves in a month or two.

July was a month of business and parties and recovery. Of reunions–of quiet and loud. So many contrasts held close. I’m not sure what this halfway point means to the rest of the year but I’ll be glad to find out.

What I’m Reading –

I did not do too well this month with reading, I got pretty busy and pleasure reading came few and far between. So I’m going to cheat and sneak a few June books in here.

-If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski (5/5). I’ve followed Jamie’s writing for a long time. He has a true talent in his words, which shines in this collection. An anthology structured through the years shows triumphs, tragedies and moments of beauty. Though many of these told his story, his words always have a way of connecting to the hearts of others. It’s a solid collection that I highly recommend.
-Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen (5/5). My first of Dessen’s and I loved it. I thought the story, the pacing and the characters were excellent.
-Found by Micha Boyett (4/5). I was unsure of this book for a while, because while it sounded interesting to me, I’m not a mother and often in christian non-fic, motherhood is used in such a way I just can’t connect with. That said, not a problem here. I loved the way she wrote about becoming a new mother and adjusting to that stage of life. Micha’s writing about her journey within church and faith was beautiful.
-The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson (5/5). Blown away by book three in the Shades of London series. It’s a little creepy but suspenseful and oh boy did I love the passage 3/4 through the book. I also appreciated that it didn’t end with a cliff hanger. But I’m still anxiously awaiting book 4…due in two years or so.
-The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (4/5). Beautiful Royal Family fanfiction-esque story and I loved it to pieces. There were a couple sections I skimmed or skipped over but overall I just loved this story. It was a great quick read, fluff piece.
-Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (5/5). I did not anticipate liking this story as much as I did.

I read 6 books in July, bringing my total to 76 books for the year. I beat my second reading goal (!!!) and moved my final yearlong reading goal up to 100.

What I Listened To –
-All Prodigal Daughters and Sons by Emily Joy. This spoken word album is amazing. I’ve relistened to this so many times this month. My favorite tracks as “The Last Poem,” “You Are Not a Princess,” and the title track.
-Sly July. I made a playlist of favorite songs this month. My most played songs: House of Gold by twentyone pilots and Before I Sleep by Joy Williams.

What I Watched –
-Broadchurch series 2. I watched 83% of the series (I haven’t seen the last two eps yet so no spoilers!) but I really enjoyed this second season. I tried to come in with no expectations (and having seen no promos) and I think that was the best way to do it. That and bingewatching it. Worth a watch just for David Tennant’s scottish accent.

Favorite Instagram –
Sorry instagram changed their website and I can’t attach photos at this point. I’m embedding it and hopefully I can come back in and put the photo up later. Here’s the photo.

Sending best wishes to you for this August, in this month of change that there would be plenty of small, beautiful moments. Linking up with Leigh, as usual. Be sure to check out her post for beautiful San Fran pictures, as well as the rest of the link up.

What I’m Into – May

Where did May go? Didn’t the month just start? It was a pretty good month and as usual, I’m sad to see it go. June will bring with it more summer goodness. Here’s some things I was into this month. Connecting with the lovely Leigh (check out my favorite post of her’s this month. Made me want to hit the road and head to Nashville stat) and the What I’m Into link-up.

What I’m Reading:
Last month I read a lot of books that didn’t connect with me. Some weren’t great or were good but generally just weren’t my thing. I looked at my goodreads ratings for last month. It was all threes and fours. Suddenly I understood why I felt a little burnt out. At the beginning of May, I accidentally devoured a book that I fell in love with. That’s when I remembered why reading books you’re passionate about is so important. It reminds me why I love to read in the first place.

-Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed (5/5). An anthology of notes from the Dear Sugar column Cheryl used to write for the website The Rumpus. I loved this book. It spoke to my soul and freed me. I know this book and her advice are not for everyone. But I found the questions and the answers immensely freeing & good for my soul. I love how much of her own stories Cheryl (as Sugar) included in her responses.
-Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (4/5). I love this series of books by Steph.This particular volume in the series wasn’t my favorite. I definitely preferred Isla’s story (which comes after Lola’s). It was a little tropey and very teenage protagonist. That said, it was a (mostly) light and cute read for me, which is what I wanted.
-Find the Good by Heather Lende (5/5). I picked this up on a whim from the popular reads section of the library and loved it. A short collections of essays on life and death from an obit writer in Alaska. These stories were good for my soul.
-Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson (2/5). The back cover sounded interesting: destiny brings a man and woman together as they’re held up at a gas station. But between the characters (both very wounded and unstable) and the unclear flashing between past and present, I couldn’t take it. Halfway through the novel, I nearly gave up because I couldn’t find myself rooting for either of the main characters. I pushed through but still, didn’t like it. Nothing hurts my heart like being disappointed in a book. Sometimes it’s just not a good match for you.
-In the Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (5/5). This book took me by surprise in the best way. Rory, a Louisiana native, comes to boarding school outside of London when a Jack the Ripper imitator is beginning to strike. I’d hesitated at picking this up before but I’m so glad I did. The story picks up about 1/4 of the way in and it’s hard to put down! I requested books two and three…three came first and I haven’t been able to pick up book two yet! Excited to start book two next week.

This month I hit my preliminary reading goal of 50 books! Woohoo! I moved my goodreads challenge up to 75 books. I’d like to read more than that but since I’m not sure what the rest of the year will bring me, I’m going easy on the number. Currently I’ve read 55 books for the year.

On the to-read stack: If You find this Letter by Hannah Brencher, The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker and If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski.

Audience participation: I have a question for you. What does it take for you to not finish a book? Is there a page limit? Do you push on through and just finish? Is there certain content that will make you stop? I’m curious about what you think.

What I’m Listening to:
-Mumford and Sons, Wilder Mind. Yes and please. Don’t get me wrong I miss those banjos like whoa. But their lyrics still connect to my soul.
-Jon Foreman, Caroline. I think I’m really going to enjoy his next musical series The Wonderlands.
-Joy Williams, Until the Levee and What a Good Woman Does. Joy is bringing the soul stirring lyrics to her debut. If I can’t have my beloved Civil Wars back, this is the best runner up.

What Podcasts I’m Listening to:
-Joy the Baker podcast.
-Dear Sugar. Always and forever. The episode about friendship this month nearly brought me to tears. I love the Sugars.

What I’m Watching:
-Once Upon a Time. Alternate Universe (AU) storyline? Yes. I loved this episode so much. I had a feeling I’d enjoy the AU, but not as much as I did. I’d watch a mini-series of these characters in the AU realm. Of course I’m still feeling the ending (that’s as much of a spoiler as I’ll say) and I don’t know how I’m going to make it til Fall.

Other things I loved this month:
-Early morning walks on the beach during our Mother’s Day trip.
-Catching up conversations with a friend.
-Ordering a box of new books I’m excited to read.
-Finding a gift card in an older box and discovering it still had a full balance! That made my box of books order even better.
-Sitting in the new airport cell lot, which is right near one of the runways. Sitting in the car and getting to watch planes take off or land. Dream come true.❤
-Finding out one of my favorite authors, Allie Brosh, has a new book coming out in October!

-Beachgram. One of those few summery things I got into. But goodness morning walks with your feet in the water are glorious.

beach view

Here’s to a glorious June of warm sun, cool breezes and lots of cool treats. To summer reads and good things, both planned and unexpected.