Life Lessons,  raving lunatic rant

The Bible Conference

Mommy with her coffee

Happy New Year! Did you see my new banner? No? Empty your cache and refresh your browser. There it is. Anyway before I go off rambling about the super duper invites I’m designing for Bug’s super-duper-puppet-show birthday party coming up, I think I better say a few words about the bible conference I attended over Christmas weekend.

I usually hate to talk about this stuff because I know some of you will write me off as one of those bible-thumping lunatics and the rest of you will sigh and shake your head that I’m such a coward always shying away from writing about spiritual things because it’s not the popularly accepted thing to do. And then there’s part of me that is embarrassed to admit that I probably only took in about ten percent of what was going on because I was trying to keep my toddler in line and I was distracted by the secret-coded notes my ten-year-old niece was passing right by me. (By the way, my niece may be a bad influence but she is totally clever.)


hotel beds are NICE!

taking in the view

So we stayed in a fancy hotel, we ate more cookies and I drank more coffee than I really should have… I saw old friends that I haven’t seen in three years or more and I learned some things. I don’t feel like this is the place to discuss them. (Not to mention I don’t want to admit how dumb I am.) But I’m coming around to the fact that I shouldn’t hide that I am a Christian anymore. I know. There goes my readership. But I have to be honest. This is me. Silly fickle me.

I’ve had so many years that I doubted my faith. I was “saved” when I was very young and didn’t really know there was anything else to believe. Then my whole world turned on it’s head when I left the church in my twenties. I didn’t want anything to do with any kind of organized religeon. I’d seen the evil that it (and myself) could do. The Da Vinci Code sent me for a loop. Could Jesus be married? Could the bible be re-written to suit the Catholics in power at the time? I still question everything. I’d say you are a liar or in extreme denial if you don’t.

But I’m coming around. It doesn’t all make logical sense in my head. I still worry that faith is part of my brain’s elaborate plan to fool me out of being afraid of death. But I’m letting go of that. I was raised to trust in Jesus to get me through. I was raised to read the bible for encouragement. Sure it’s sentimental because it reminds me of the safe harbor that was my youth but maybe I want that safe harbor for my kid too. And then there’s the part about prayer. I don’t understand it. It works. I’ve prayed my way through trial after trial and every time I am amazed that somebody up there, who has a million zillion other things to do, actually heard me.

So that is that. I’m sorry if I bored you to tears and you’ll never want to come here again. I’m sorry if I disappointed you because I’m not going to relay what I learned from reading Hebrews 10. I just felt like I had to say something because it happened. I went to a bible conference for three days and it was good for me. I’m not going to be walking door-to-door handing out tracts but I am going to examine why I’m so hesitant to be a Christian in this crazy world. It’s part of who I am. It’s how I want to raise my daughter… maybe I need to just own up and not be so afraid to be a fool in other’s eyes. Maybe I’ve been a fool for hiding it.

self portrait in dinnerware

A funny thing though: Many of the people at the conference know that I blog. It’s sort of embarrassing but it keeps me on my toes thinking about all the different personalities that will read what I write. So it sort of amused me when I was picking up my free muffins for breakfast that a girl standing nearby whispered to her friend that she wondered how much of this conference would end up on I don’t blog at and I wasn’t really going to blog about the conference at all. It’s part of my mixed-up private life that I don’t want to discuss with five hundred of my closest imaginary friends. But when she said that, I had to write something. If only just to smile and say, I heard you.

her first experience with hot rollers

Also? Baby Bug enjoyed it thoroughly. I can’t say the same about her first experience with hot rollers though.

p.s. top photo taken by Bug


  • Kim

    aww. LOVE the new banner!!! (my boys are 6,4 and 2, ive commented randomly but read often. i too have religion in my life but not… yknow. i think that’s the new catholic defition though so you’re ‘fine’) i have a great BIBLE for kids, its in calendar order (everyday you read 1-2 pgs) and read better for kids. im restarting it today (as i forgot and got too far beind last mar/apr some where) but wanted to recommend it/the idea for you & Bug someday in a few yrs). Happy NY!

  • beck

    Well this part of your readership is neither sighing and rolling her eyes NOR leaving because you’re a religious lunatic. =)
    I completely understand. And wow, that is a fancy hotel. I totally passed notes in code back and forth with a cool dad during the meetings one year. I was surprised my parents didn’t stop us (an adult joining me in crime!) but I think they were just happy I was occupied. =)

  • Mrs. Wilson

    1. LOVE the new banner, as usual.
    2. The Bible SAYS to question (test) everything in I Thessalonians 5:21!
    3. I think it IS okay to blog without mentioning Jesus every time. And it’s okay to mention Him occasionally. It’s for the same reason that I’m not a fan of Jesus t-shirts. People should be able to tell by our life, not our t-shirts/words that we have faith.
    4. Happy New Year dear Brenda!

  • Michelle

    Happy New Year! Try a blog called “Bring the Rain”, Brenda. The author is such a wonderful teacher and amazing Christian woman. I really think you would like it!

  • Katherine

    Well I’m an atheist and I’ll still keep reading! And it’s your blog, write what you like. I think it’s refreshing to read about people who are thinking about their faith and working out what it means to them rather than someone who is dead certain and wants to convert us all (I don’t read blogs like that though, except my cousins because I’m related to them and am nosy!). As long as there’s craft and Bug here I’ll stick around. Happy new year!

  • Aunt Kathy

    You are totally brave! Let your light so shine.

    I’m just sorry I wasn’t there to see you at the conference. Laura and Heidi mentioned to me that you were there.

    Love the pic of Bug in her tights and hat. It must have been warm this year.

    By the way, we all passed notes.

  • LVGurl

    I absolutely LOVE the banner! Dare I say… it’s your best one yet.

    I was raised Catholic, went my own way after a while, and came back to the faith after Makenna was born. I questioned everything. But once Makenna was born, it was clear to me that there is something far beyond us that creates lovely miracles.

    I understand exactly what you’re saying.

  • lynne

    You know one of the reasons I love your blog is that I recognise myself in your struggles. I hope that doesn’t sound twisted. It’s a compliment. You touch on things I feel I really can’t talk about to the people in my daily life. So maybe I should make some new friends?

  • Jacquie

    What kind of world is this where we feel we have to apologize for having faith or spirituality? You are so cool B and I am glad you had a good experience and shared it with us. I think you are so brave for sharing so much of your life for all the world to see. I think it’s so awesome that you have an online picture journal of all the wonderful time you got to spend with your daughter. I have said it before and I will say it again and again.. you so ROCK ;)

  • amy

    love all yr work gal. AND why would you ever think yr readers would judge you? I won’t. I love God and I love you and let’s all be creative. No- honestly- I come here for you and all of you! happy new year! xo

  • Christina

    I felt like I reading about my upbringing- I was “saved” at the age of 10 and in my 20’s have had my struggles with religion. I still question and am still searching. Thank you for your honesty. I, too have an almost 3 year old who is exciting and a struggle too. BTW- thank you for sharing the snow globe soap! I was able to whip some up and give out as gifts. Thank you, Thank you for all that you share.

  • Sonja

    I’ve struggeled with the same thing. On top of that, I feel like my spiritual life is somehow very private and thus off-blog-limits.

  • Kim

    I totally understand your hesitation, I am an atheist (that will keep reading) and have gone back and forth on whether to talk about my views or not. Its your blog, talk about what makes you feel good, what message you want to send and what you want to remember.. We love your writing for who you are!

  • mami dearest

    Hi SAJ…I’ve been a reader for a long time, but never really comment. I wanted to comment to say I adore you even more now! Don’t be afraid to show who you are, and what you believe. That’s a piece of advice I need to take myself :)

  • BeachMama

    We all secretly know you are a Christian (at least those of us who have been reading you for a while) and you know what we still come back day after day. I too am a secret Christian (secret being I don’t blog a lot about it) as I feel there is a time and place for everything.

    Two sayings stuck in my head while reading your post. One is “Faith is believing in what you cannot see”. And the other is “They will know we are Christian’s by our Love.” You don’t have to shout it from the mountains for others to know, your Love shines through.

    Your new banner ROCKS by the way. I look forward to Bug’s birthday this year so I can start planning (way in advance) for Apple’s second birthday. Wish I could be a fly on the wall at the party, it would so be a highlight for 2009.

  • Glenda

    LOL – oh honey we love you because you are you – not what you believe or where you are at with it all. Faith is a tough thing to imagine and wait til you try and explain it to LB Ü but ya know it is an amazing part of my life and I couldn’t do without it!!

    Love the banner!

  • Camels & Chocolate

    I love that you wrote this, because I’ve been grappling with very similar issues lately. I grew up Christian, was saved at a young age, but essentially stopped going to church when I headed to college. I’m thinking that I should start going back soon…

    And you totally shouldn’t have to hide who you are; it’s not like you’re forcing your beliefs upon your readers.

    Love the Bug Birthday Banner!

  • Sondra

    Very brave of you to post this, and I know it is intimidating to “put yourself out there” as a Christian. Anyway, your words reminded me of the chorus of an old Michael Card song I was raised on, called “God’s Own Fool”:

    When we in our foolishness thought we were wise
    He played the fool and He opened our eyes
    When we in our weakness believed we were strong
    He became helpless to show we were wrong

    So we follow God’s own Fool
    For only the foolish can tell
    Believe the unbelievable
    Come be a fool as well

  • Deeleea

    The best kind of faith is the one that isn’t a badge to be polished for others but one that is genuinely lived out. That kind doesn’t require daily advertisement in public forums like blogs, but is one that will creep into the writing as it is merited and no one can think ill of that… it’s an expression of you and we love what you write already having a faith element takes nothing away from that! It makes the reading, and the life we’re reading about, richer. I say, bring it on!

  • Jennifer W.

    I love that you wrote it. It’s exactly how I feel and I’m still working on coming to terms with it. I think it’s the new life I’m responsible for that’s making me question my questions. Faith, what a mystery.

  • comfortablycrazy

    I like what everyone has had to say, but especially Deeleea.

    We all wear our religion like a badge sometimes, and when we pin it on to show others (expressing our faith) we try to make sure it is all shiny (happy), but you know what, if anyone really looked at our badge they’d see that it’s a little tarnished at the edges.

    We all have doubts in our faith. We doubt if it’s true, if we should tell others, if we should keep it to ourselves. We wonder when/where is the right time/place/way to talk about it. We wonder if we should even bother.

    If we spent all day everyday looking for the right time/place/way we’d never find it. It peeks out when we need it to, and like the song says, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” Sometimes it might only be a dim glow, but it’s still shining.

    You’re doing the right thing with Bug. I know this because we struggle with the same things. She believes and it’s obvious. Her faith in you and Toby is all the proof you need.

    Ok, I’m done.

    Maybe I should have put this in a an email instead of a comment.

  • Dianna

    Brenda I really enjoyed your blog about the Bible conference. Sorry I didn’t even see you at the conference to even say “Hello” to you and Bug. We went home after the first day ’cause I was ill and sleeping alot in the room. Well, I have ta say you are soooo creative and blessed my lady!

  • margalit

    As one that actively wears her religion on her sleeve very proudly, I say who cares what anyone else thinks? If you want to increase your spirituality, if you want to attend a bible conference, if you want to teach Bug about religion, then go for it. There are a HUGE contingent of Christian bloggers out there, and you might get comfort from reading them and maybe meeting them. You don’t have to look hard to find them., should get you started. Interesting coming from a nice Jewish girl, huh? :-)

    We all question our spirituality. How can we not, when the world continues to fight religious wars even to this day. It’s a part of life.

    If you don’t feel like returning to the church of your childhood, especially for bug, there is SO much out there that you’re destined to find a home church perfect for your little family. So I say go for it, and do it with gusto!

    Love the banner. I want to go to a green puppet show, too!

  • Jennifer

    I love the banner so much. Very fun and festive!

    I’m still struggling with the whole religion thing. I wish I could be comfortable with a decision but I’m not yet. I’ve even witnessed miracles, but I can’t commit. It makes me a little sad that I’m in this place, but I am.

    I’m glad that you have found comfort in religion. Of course there will be the questions, I guess that is what makes faith.

    I didn’t think there would be any problems with “outing” yourself. I think it’s a bit narrow minded to make a snap judgment based on somebody’s faith, or lack of.

    The last Bug picture is so cute. I don’t like hot curlers either :P

  • Lulu

    Felt like I HAD to comment on this one:

    1. Great new banner. Darling!
    2. As BeachMama said, those of us who have been reading for a while already knew. This is YOUR space, for what you are feeling and living at any given time. I love that you are now feeling free to write about ALL of who you are (well, within blog-reason). And your readers will love it too, we’re not only here for the pictures. ;)

    Happy New Year, I am smiling at the thought of what this post means to you!

  • citystreams

    I’m so glad you shared this because it makes you seem more human. It’s a dimension that I didn’t expect from you. Sounds like it must have been an awesome Bible conference. :o)

  • kristin

    i’m proud of you for sharing your beliefs even though you were nervous to… i’m a christian, too, and can be a bit timid about it… i will certainly continue reading regardless of what you do or don’t believe! :)

  • The Chatty Housewife

    I love the new banner. I just love green and I love how you incorporated the month and year into it. Awesome job. Have you visited my blog recently? I found a background that matches one of the banners you made me and I’m learning HTML which is scary. Thanks once again!

    I can’t believe you went to conference on the year I had to stay home!!! I am so glad you got to go, I wish I could have! I think this year there would definitely have been a little more between us than a “hello you have a cute baby” during a shared elevator ride. I would have loved to sit down and talk. The Mr. and I have went every second year since we were married and this year was our year to stay home. We plan to go next year, but that probably means you don’t as it will most likely be your year to spend the holidays with Toby’s relatives?

    Anyways, I’m glad you went and I am also proud of you for sharing it here. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss that photo of Bug in the hat and tights. Priceless.

  • Leta

    Like someone else said, it is your blog, blog what you want and if they don’t like it they don’t have to read it. That new banner is the cutest thing ever! You are so talented, Brenda. Happy New Year to you and your sweet little family.

  • (another) bethany

    it’s all been said better than i can, thanks for sharing yourself despite the fears. need i say i’m with you??! afraid to step out and say what i think most of the time for fear of being disliked, judged, looked at funny, you name it. the banner rocks. the tights rock. that hotel?? sheesh what a conference! you prolly saw my folks there this year. i went to chi-town the weekend they had their conference this year but didn’t go and it felt realllly weird. i could have but was afraid to for many reasons. happy new year to you, and i hope it’s a rich and freeing one for you!

  • DeeJay

    Srsly…not your Mommy but am very proud of you as well.

    Personally I even go so far as to not talk religion to hardly anybody. Mainly because so many people seem to want to question how I feel or see things and explaining how I feel angers me when it is approached in such a manner. Like they want to ask me ” how stupid are you for thinking that way?”

    I dunno.

  • Kuky

    I was wondering where you were when I was looking at your flickr stream. And as Beachmama said, long time readers do know. :) I’m not scared away.

    And I love the new banner. I’m thinking about making a new one for the new year but sheesh it took me a while to make my current one so I might just keep it up for longer.

  • Melissa

    I love reading your blog, but have to apologize because I’m not sure I’ve ever even shown you any comment love! I just wanted you to know that this post really hit home for me, especially when you said “…I am going to examine why I’m so hesitant to be a Christian in this crazy world. It’s part of who I am. “. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve wondered that myself. Sometimes I feel like a major coward, I would love to be able say “Yep, I’m a Christian, so what? I’m not some whack job who’s gonna try to save you by hitting you over the head with my bible.” I swear I feel like I’m in some “christian closet” or something! Then I wonder if it’s just me not giving other’s enough credit or whether it’s a sign of weakness in my own faith that I can’t just bring myself to just say it. I guess there’s alot of us grappling with these same feelings, thank you for being brave enough to express it! I know it’s not easy but I appreciate you reminding me that I’m not the only one who struggles with this stuff. On a lighter note, I can’t wait to read about Bug’s bday party! I’m excited for both of you girls!

  • Jummy

    I totally nodded through Beach Mama’s comment! I don’t proclaim my Christianity on my blog, but I think that’s mostly because I don’t feel like I’m a “good Christian”, whatever that means, and I feel like if people read an entry where I’m showing envy, or anger or some other unpleasant emotion, they’ll feel let down or disappointed in me, which is silly because Christian or not, I’m still human, and God still loves me.

    Anyway, thank you for keeping it real, as always. And Beach Mama is right that your love shines through 100%.

    I love Bug’s striped tights! What a stylin’ girl!

  • April

    Count me in as another faithful/faith-less reader! I was raised without religion (actually, if I’m honest, as a Scientologist. If you think it’s tough admitting your Christian, imagine admitting that!), but find myself drawn to the comfort that my Christian friends find in the bible and their relationship with Jesus.

    I love the picture of Bug in the tights and hat. She’s so adorable!

  • cindy

    I feel like I could have written this myself. I, too am wary about blogging about being a Christian. I guess I always feel like I’m not a very good one. I know that’s silly and TOTALLY not what its all about but I think its my own guilt or something. I dunno. I was “saved” as an adolescent and then “turned my back” and then came back im my twenties too. I met my husband BEFORE coming back and now long story short I am in an unequally yoked relationship (happily married, btw) and I am afraid of talking too much about it and putting myself out there and being judged. I guess its really personal and nobody’s beeswax sometimes. EXCEPT I JUST PUT ALL OF IT HERE IN YOUR COMMENT BOX. HA HA. So much for private. But seriously, I really appreciate your honesty. Maybe someday I’ll feel comfortable enough or ready enough to just blog about my own faith walk.
    Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Susie

    SAJ, this is YOUR blog! You shouldn’t have to feel sheepish about what you choose to write here. Moreover, no one should EVER have to apologize for religious beliefs. EVER. This country was founded on the notion that we all should be free to worship (or not) in our own ways.

    Regardless, I would venture to say that we regular readers 1) are already aware of your spiritual journey (even if we are not privy to the details) and 2) continue to return because we enjoy your blog. The way this works is you blog what feels right to you. Have I mentioned this is YOUR blog?

    As human beings, we are constantly evolving. It makes sense to me that your blog should evolve with you. Congratulations on being brave enough to be true to yourself.

  • Allisone

    Honey, be who you are.
    I would read about what you learned and what spoke to you during your conference – or your personal studies… but I also realize that they are personal.
    Write what wants to be written, without fear.
    The internet can be a wonderfully accepting place when you ignore the trolls.

  • Troy

    Great! What more can I say? Great post, great pics (I especially like the lighting in the hotel room pillows picture), great topic, great new banner. The total package rocks. Great job Brenda!