Friday, July 9, 2010

Passing the Buck -- To another Misfit! Welcome Shane!

Hi Peeps! Been awhile and this will be a short hello, but I was sent this amazing blog link by my daughter and I wanted to share it with all of you! This guy, Shane Claiborne is saying everything I feel and think, but haven't been able to put into words. He's redirected me back to what I wanted this site to be in the first place! So please check out the link and read his blog. It's awesomely awesome! 

More later -- God bless you all! 

Misfit Tess Registered & Protected

Monday, June 14, 2010

Is It God's Fault?

Hi Misfits! 
Me again. Sorry I have been so lame lately and not been writing my blog. Since I have "talked" to all of you last, I have learned that another dear friend of mine has cancer. This kind of cancer is highly treatable, thank God, and my friend is in what we who idly stand by and watch this pain call, "good spirits". My cousin Linda, the recipient of many of your prayers, has also been in "good spirits". She has begun her chemo treatment and so far has not gotten sick, as many people do when their immune system is wiped out by the miracle of modern medicine. So that's good. That's great. 

Do I sound bitter? 

I don't mean to, truly I don't. Because in spite of my silence here lately I'm not blaming God. I believe to the depths of my being that disease and illness on this world are caused by the fallen nature of said world. We live in a world that is trapped in entropy--where everything is running down, breaking down, dying. And cancer is part of that entropy, at least until a cure is found. (Did you know that cancer is caused when bad cells multiply without restraint? That's entropy that is multiplying itself. I like to call this When Bad Cells Go Badder. Nature corrupted. Entropy out of control.)

So why doesn't God heal everyone with cancer, especially people who worship Him? I have to refer to this little scripture: "The rain falls on the just and the unjust." And I think that's a really great example of the way things work on this fallen world. Rain is one of the most necessary and vital parts of the natural world that God set into motion. It, along with the sun, gives us Life. We carbon-based units are among the happy plants receiving this Life. 

But rain has a dark side too. It can destroy. So when happy little raindrops fall on the just and the unjust, we can deal with that, but when the floods wipe out our aunt in Duluth, who loved the Lord, it might cause us to wonder. So A hurricane hits a city, an earthquake destroys a country--some people believe this is the hand of God. I personally believe that weather patterns are to blame, not the Father who is called Love. So what does this mean? That we're at the mercy of physics? Yeah, kind of. Except for the intervening, all-mighty hand of God.

(Side note: Just imagine for a moment, this fallen world without God's Spirit. There are a lot of things I wonder about, but the fact that  God's Spirit here among us is all that keeps us from devouring one another isn't one of them.) 

Most of us believe that Prayer invokes God's help. Why? Why doesn't God just see a need and help? Well, who says He doesn't? But at the same time, there seems to be strength in numbers. I have friends who would say that's proof of the power of our own energy, gathered up and sent to the person who needs it. And since I'm a Misfit, I have to say, maybe that's part of it. But God still has to be in the mix, I'm thinking, because we are trapped in this natural scientific entropy, and only something supernatural can shake it. 

Anyway, back to my friend and my cousin. I don't blame God, though I certainly understand why a person would. I do have questions about why there was a Tree in the Garden and why stupid Man was allowed to make such a choice that ended us up here -- (Hmmm....a crappy world run by the Prince of Darkness, or friendship with God in a perfect Eden? Gee, that's a tough one...) ---and a few other things, but I am pretty hard and fast in my belief that most of the bad stuff in life happens either because of A) Fallen People B) this Fallen World or C) Something We Can't Fully Understand (and no, this is not a cop-out option. I truly believe there are some things that happen that are beyond our understanding.) 

And if you believe A and B, then the belief that Christ came to Earth because Man screwed up and chose this instead of Him, and God the Father wanted to provide a way back to Paradise through something Man could understand (a blood sacrifice, someone giving their life for someone else), makes perfect sense.

There's a part of me that wants to pump myself up with faith. You know that kind of faith--the kind that believes no matter what that it's all okay, that God is in control and whatever happens is His will. But maybe it isn't His will.  Maybe when Man made the choice to turn his back on the Creator, he made the choice to die here in pain and misery. And God had to honor the choice of free will that Man made. No,  I just don't have the energy to pump myself up, but I deep inside of me I am still trusting Him to grant mercy.

And I must confess, I have been rocked by what is happening to those I love. And I am clinging to faith in a God I have believed in since I was 10 years old. Do I blame Him? No. But there is a part of me that must, in spite of that, ask, "Why?" Even though I know the answer.    

So if my cousin and my friend are not granted longer life on this earth, will I stop believing? I don't think so. But I'm pretty sure I'll be asking a lot more questions. And continue to curse this world of chaos and decay. And pray that tomorrow I will see a rainbow, and remember that in spite of this fallen world, God is here, and that miracles do still happen.

May the Peace that passes understanding be yours...and mine... today. 

Misfit Tess

Monday, May 17, 2010

Yea, though we walk through the valley of death . . .

Hi Misfits,
Forgive me for not being on here for a while. A few weeks ago I received the news that my cousin, Linda, who is like a sister to me, had been rushed to the hospital for a collapsed lung. At the time, the doctors had no idea what had caused it other than fluid that had accumulated in the chest cavity. I remember thinking at the time that she probably had pneumonia. Before long, we were told that she might have lung cancer, then that she had a mass in the lung, and one in the breast. Our family has had three deaths already due to lung cancer, and her father and mother were two of those deaths. We were all justifiably terrified.

After two and a half weeks in the hospital, and undergoing a surgery to remove tumors in the lung, and two drainage procedures to get the fluid out of her chest, my cousin received her prognosis. She has Stage 4 breast cancer which has spread to the lung and the bone. She will begin chemo in a week or so, but no assurances that this will cure her cancer.

My first thought after hearing about my cousin was: Not Linda. Please, God, not Linda. Linda is one of the kindest, sweetest, most wonderful people I have ever known. She has comforted me, listened to me, understood me, given me unconditional love all of my life. Not Linda. 

But yes, it is Linda. Linda fighting breast cancer. Linda fighting against time. Linda who doesn't even have the energy or perhaps the will to fight, because she has had so much trauma to her body already.

I haven't been angry at God for Linda's cancer. Not yet, anyway. I won't claim that I may not feel angry at some point in this journey. I expect that I will. But for now, God is giving me the ability to bear this sorrow, and given me the understanding that when you live in a Fallen World as we do, there is going to be disease and entropy and decay and death. And these nightmares will fall upon the just and the unjust. And Linda is truly one of the just.

No, I'm not angry at God, but I am sad and heart broken and filled with despair.

So, my dear Misfits, I have been in shock for a couple of weeks. I have tried to write my blog, but couldn't seem to find any words, and when I did, there were too many of them, colliding and bouncing against the sides of my brains, into my fingers, onto the page, too, too much to throw out here. But today I decided I would try again because today I experienced something beautiful.

The first thing I did when I found out Linda's prognosis was to go on Facebook and post what had happened, and ask my friends to pray for Linda. Fifteen people wrote back and said that they would. My heart was immediately lifted, and I felt so much better. I am a cave dweller by choice, and to know that these sweet folks were praying for someone they didn't even know (Linda) and someone they barely know (me) was just so encouraging. Some people said they would send good vibes. That's okay. I will take it. Linda needs those good vibes, those thoughts, that good energy, those prayers.

Then today I got an email that I get every week, from a ladies' prayer group I visited a couple of times, telling where they are meeting. This group is part of a church we used to attend. A church where we never could find out place, our slot, our niche. We never felt really part of it. But I did attend this group a couple of times and liked it. They were nice ladies, and I kept meaning to go back, but just didn't because, well, because I'm a misfit. How, I wondered, would I fit in? What if I didn't? I didn't know if I could take the rejection again. However, they kept me on their mailing list.

When I saw the email about the ladies group meeting, I sent an email back and asked for prayer for my cousin, Linda. Almost instantly, four people wrote me back (so far) and actually prayed in the email for my cousin and her family and for me! I was truly overwhelmed with gratefulness.  As I read the kindness and the compassion in these emails, my heart began to throb with such love for them, such thankfulness, as well as those posted on Facebook.

So, my dear Misfit readers, once again it has been shown to me that there is a church above and beyond that contained within four walls. There is a Church, headed by Jesus Christ, where all may come, where all are welcomed, sinner or saint, where all problems are important, where prayers are offered up with love and concern. And I am deeply, deeply grateful to be part of that vast Church, which encompasses this Fallen World. 

(BTW, A few weeks ago I wrote something about the spiritual metaphor of Christ and the Church. I did not mean that there is only a metaphor in this most beautiful of relationships, and I apologize if that's what it sounded like. There is a spiritual reality of Christ and the Church, which is too deep for me to even attempt to explain, but I wanted to clarify my previous, rather thoughtless words.)

Sweet Misfits--I have a challenge for you today. If you feel like you don't belong, the way I feel most of the time, I hope you will try something new this week. Ask strangers for prayer. Ask friends for prayer. Even try asking those you know aren't Christians, or you think aren't Christians, to pray for you. You might be surprised by the response you get. And so might they. I have no doubt that if a non-Christian prays for you, not only is it heard by God Almighty, but that person will hear back from Him as well.

And guess what? I'm going to go to the ladies' group this Wednesday night. I am going to go and hope that somehow this Misfit may find a way to be part of such a loving group of people. And if it doesn't work for me, (probably due to my own misfitiness) then I will know that in spite of this, that these lovely ladies in this group, and my lovely friends on Facebook, (as well as the friends I have in RL) will continue to be there for me. Because we are all part of this same beautiful, invisible, uniting, loving Church of believers.

So now, my Misfit Friends, I ask for your prayers and I think you now, because I know you will send them out for Linda and her family. I will keep you all posted, and share with you what God does in the days ahead, for I feel sure this journey is only just beginning.

Also, if you have things in your life that need prayer, please post them here. I will pray for you, and I'm sure others will as well.

Misfit Tess

Update: My cousin was rushed to the ER last night, and learned she now has pneumonia. The same day, my Uncle Burleigh was taken to the hospital and has pneumonia in his one remaining lung. The other was removed when he had lung cancer many years ago. Please pray for him as well, and for healing for both he and Linda. 

"And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preemnence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. " Colossians 1:18-19

Monday, April 19, 2010

MIsfit Church Basher?

Hi Misfits!
I've been worried over the last few days that my blog will be taken as a "church-bashing" blog. I want to say, right now, up front, that this is not my intention at all! The Church is made up of all believers in Christ and is very important, no, may I say, VITAL to our entire belief system? The metaphor of the Church being the Bride of Christ is possibly one of the deepest spiritual images that exists. So if I mention things that have happened to me in churches, please don't think that I am against the Church OR even physical churches. I just know that many, many people have been hurt in physical churches, and there is a reason for that. We, as Christians, need to be ever mindful that we represent Christ to the world, yeah, but also that we represent Christ to the person sitting next to us in the pew. Or folding chair.

Sometimes things happen in churches that boggle the mind. And somehow people seem to look past it because, well, because it happened in church. Nowhere else is it more apparent that people are just imperfect beings than within physical church bodies. That's where our true fallen natures so often seem to rear their ugly heads. I don't know why. I just know it's true.

As a misfit, this blog has started out kind of all over the place. I've blogged about being a Misfit Christian. I've blogged a little about my beginnings as a Christian. Now about the church. I think in my heart there are certain things that I truly want to talk about to other Christians, and also to non-Christians.

One, is that not everyone who is a Christian feels comfortable in the physical body of church (hence part of the whole Misfit Christian thing). This doesn't mean I don't think we need a physical church body. In fact, I do. But neither do I think God forsakes us if we aren't "going to" church regularly.

Two, I want to talk to Christians about how we chase others away from God, either by our actions or our words or our well-meant evangelistic endeavors. Why do people cringe when you say the word, "Christian" ? Because Christians have made it a bad word, equating it with other words like Pious, Judgmental, Condemning, Holier-than-Thou (okay more than a word), Superior, and even words like Hateful, Mean, Spiteful, and Republican. (Now don't hate me, but I would truly like to urge people who are combining their politics with Christianity to please stop!! I can back this up with scripture, and will on another blog.)

So for awhile, this blog may be all over the place, but mostly, I hope it will become a site that people can come to and express their own experiences, thoughts, views, even questions they have about Christ or the way Christians act. I certainly don't have all the answers, but we can sure all talk about it together!

hugs from Misfit Tess

Today's question: Have you ever been hurt by a church body or a Christian? I want to hear your story. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My Misfit Story, Part I

Dear Fellow Misfits, 

Yes, this picture exemplifies how I feel most of the time. Upside down and hysterical. :))

Some of you have been kind enough to tell your story, things that happened to you in church, or in your life, and so I thought I'd share some of my experience on this journey through Misfitness and Faith. 

Today most churches have "contemporary services", but when I was a young Christian, that movement was just barely beginning. I remember when I got saved (for the third time--long story) at a revival led by Richard Hogue (what a great guy he was -- talk about meeting you where you live, but more on that in another blog) I left that revival feeling so psyched to win people to Christ. To bring people to church. To serve God.  I was fortunate enough at that time to be attending a little church out in the country, where the pastor was young, in his mid-20s. He had ideas, he welcomed the young people with open arms, and we flocked into the small chapel-like building, bringing in the lost. 

Unfortunately for the older, staunch church body that had been there for umpteen years, the lost that came in were often long-haired, dirty hippies. Barefoot. Tee-shirts. Jeans. But it all worked out. Eventually we got the message, through the dirty looks and the cold shoulders. Even the pastor got the message. He left. We left. Suddenly, I was a new Christian who had lost her church. 

It made me sad, but I was 16 and life was a new adventure every day, though not always in a good way. I started attending a Bible study sponsored by anotherchurch and for awhile, it was awesome. Very casual, very open to questions and thoughts and well, hippies.  But the damage had been done. I was wary, and not as willing to risk my feelings again. But I did still want to "get the word out". And as an aspiring singer/songwriter, I decided I wanted to do it through music. With the help of friends, and our Bible study, I helped organize the first Christian Rock Concert in our town. And the last, I imagine.

I sang a couple of my own songs, and then "You've Got a Friend" by James Taylor, after which I told the packed gymnasium that Jesus wanted to be their friend. I followed that song with "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" by Carole Kind and then assured everyone that Jesus would still love them tomorrow--and always. It was an awesome time and an amazing experience. We could push the envelope, and some people would accept us! It was exhilarating!

After that, I rushed into evangelical Christianity, the whole Roman Road, Confront-People-About-Jesus mode of spreading the gospel.  Funny thing, that never really worked for me. In fact, every time I tried to tell people about Jesus in the way I had been taught, they ran as fast as they could in the other direction. Was a seed planted in their hearts? I don't know. All I knew was intense, terrible guilt for not "leading them to Christ". Obviously there was something wrong with me. I was a failure, and not only was I a failure, my failure meant that person was going to hell!

You see, some churches teach that whether or not a person is touched by the Holy Spirit is up to every Christian. We have to save people, and if we fail, it's on our heads.  It took me a long time to learn that the Holy Spirit does not need my efforts in order to touch someone's heart. God can touch a heart through a sunset, a song, a smile, a verse, or even something strange like a television show. He is everywhere and everything. Yeah, Jesus said for us to go and tell people about him, about what he had done. That he died for us. Then came alive again. That he healed people. That he forgave people. That he spread the word of love wherever he went, along with repentance. 

We're supposed to tell people about Christ, that much is true.  But I don't think he ever said, "Go ring doorbells and accost people. Tell them if they don't 'accept Jesus into their hearts' right that minute, that they are going to burn in hell."  Just can't find that in my Bible. 

But when I was 16 - 23, I believed it was all up to me. And when I bombed out, it made me question my faith, my abilities and most of all, my salvation. Eventually, I got tired of failing. And I quit going to church. And I quit being a "good girl". But that's another story . . . and another blog. 

What's your story? What was your "come to Jesus" experience like? Gee, I'm using a lot of quotes in this blog, aren't I?  

Till next time, I'm a Misfit. 

Misfit Tess

Friday, April 9, 2010

Are You A Misfit Too?

Dear Fellow Misfits,
I am a Misfit. And I'm a Christian. So does that automatically make me a Misfit Christian? Probably. I'm a published romance novelist, but I'm also a Christian. Yeah, I'd say I'm a Misfit. After getting to know blogger and author Jason Boyett, ( - check out the review I wrote for his new book in my first blog on this site. Just look on to the left of this text and click on "March") I realized that there are more people out there like me than I thought. So I thought I'd write a blog for all of us, people who are Misfits--loners, self-proclaimed nerds, quirky dance-to-the-beat of-a-different drummers, and independents --in Lives, and in our Christianity.    
Because we don't fit into the normal kind of Christian mold. We are square pegs in a round hole. It's a given. We have lots of non-Christian friends. We have Jewish friends. We read about other religions and we still believe our own. We wonder if things are exactly as we imagine them to be. And because we're Misfits who are actually pretty lonely sometimes, who wish they could just belong somewhere-- when we become Christians, we expect to walk into any church and automatically find our niche there in a way we've never been able to in Life.   
But that isn't what usually happens. Because Misfits looks at things differently. We tend to ask more questions. We seem to want to introduce elements that push envelopes and threaten traditions. And sometimes that is so welcome in churches, but more often, it so isn't. Sometimes it's hard to find your place when you're a Misfit. Sometimes it's hard to understand why churches do things the way they do.   
I'm not saying Misfits are better than other Christians. I'm saying we are different. Believe me, that's not better, just ... different. Does giving it a label make me feel better? Well, sort of. I mean, maybe I can't fit in anywhere else, but now that I know what I am, and have carved out this little spot in the InterWebs, I know I can fit in here, right? And I know there are more people like me out there. Maybe you need a place to come and feel like you're part of a group of people who feel sort of like you. So here it is -- a place.     
Maybe you'll read this and think what is her deal? Maybe you'll read it and think, "Yeah, I get it." Nonbelievers are welcome here too. Part of being a Misfit Christian usually includes being able to listen to the opinions of others, no matter what they believe, without feeling like you're being disloyal to Christ or your church.    
Here's my own personal rundown of traits of Misfits and Misfit Christians:     
  • A Misfit who becomes a Christian, will probably be a Misfit Christian (MC)
  • Creative people are often Misfits, i.e., Misfits are often creative people
  • MCs try to rock the church boat and often get hurt doing it.
  • MCs have more doubts because they tend to analyze things more.
  • MCs often have social phobias and major baggage and tend to get hurt easily. (Maybe some of you don't have social phobias and baggage, but, well, really?)
  • MCs come from a background of not fitting in, but when they first join a church, they think they will automatically fit in because, hey, they’re now part of a big, loving spiritual group.
  • MCs don’t do Christianspeak very well.
  • MCs tend to become bitter and cynical after awhile, if they can’t find their place in a church.
  • MCs eventually try to fit into a church, somewhere, somehow, mimicking whatever attributes will help them "find their place".
  • MCs tend to drop out of church, after trying very hard to fit in, but eventually realizing they just can't keep up the pretense.
  • MCs tend to keep an open mind.
In every blog I hope to talk about things that tend to bother Misfits like me. So here is the first thing that, well, bothers me. 

Churches can be like corporations sometimes, with their own language and rules and cliques. Of course every church is different, but in evangelical churches, some things are pretty much across the board. For instance, the way Christians think they should talk to one another. My experience has been that many people who consider themselves mature Christians, "real" Christians, spiritual leaders, talk a certain way. I call it Christianspeak. If you ask another Christian to do something for you and he says, “Will you release me from that?” You know you’re in the presence of a hardcore linguist. Or if he or she tends to talk in King James' English. I usually recommend that these friends take up working in Shakespeare in the Park, because that talent should not go to waste. 

I never could do Christianspeak well. When I hear the word, "Brethren", I can’t help it, I automatically think of the word "Sistern", which is a deep hole in the ground, though spelled differently. Some of Christianspeak comes from the Bible, and we have it in our heads that this makes it okay. But Jesus met people where they lived and he still does. And in my opinion, so should we. 

Can you imagine if Jesus had spoken to the people at the Sermon on the Mount in today’s slang? I can just hear it – “Yo, yo, my man, I’m telling ya, the meek, like they’re totally gonna inherit the earth! Holla!” They would have thought he was nuts and/or walked away from him. And that's probably why people nowadays walk away from us when we're trying to tell them about Jesus by speaking in an ancient vernacular. They think we're nuts or pretentious or just annoying. 

So here's my question of the week for you: What do you think of Christianspeak? Is it necessary? Does it bother you? Why or why not? 

I realize, after reading this over, that this is a pretty convoluted beginning to the blog, but bear with me, please. I'm a Misfit. Sometimes it takes me awhile to get things right, if ever.

Because I'm a Misfit, I won't be posting an email address here. I believe in the whole "what you say in secret will be shouted from the housetops" deal. (Totally taken out of context!) If you have a comment for me, please leave it on this blog and I will respond to it here. My only request is that any comments left for me or for others be given with courtesy and respect. And because you're all Misfits, I know you'll do that. 

I won't always be physically staring at this blog on my computer screen, but I will check in. So when I'm not here, please, talk amongst yourselves.  
 Peace, Tess

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Misfit Christians -- Do you Doubt? Review for O ME OF LITTLE FAITH

Dear Misfit Christians,
I've been trying to find the right subject for my first post on my Misfit Christians blog, and lucky for me, it dropped right into my lap. My friend, Jason Boyett ( kindly allowed me to read an advanced copy of his book, O ME OF LITTLE FAITH, and write a review. As a Misfit Christian I can tell you that many of us struggle with doubts, fears, and have more than a few questions at times about the faith we say we love. Jason Boyett's book takes us on a journey through his own life as a kind of Misfit Christian, one who challenges the status quo and asks the questions that most Christians are afraid to ask. Here's the review, and if you're a TRUE Misfit like me, you'll pre-order O ME OF LITTLE FAITH as soon as possible!


By Tess Mallory

I found out about Jason Boyett's website when I first got on Twitter. Someone posted a blurb basically saying "here's a funny guy talking about Jesus" and I followed it and found something--or rather someone--very interesting. Here was a guy who wasn't afraid to say "I'm a Christian, but I have some questions." Here was a guy who didn't subscribe to the party line and who invited people--Christian and non-Christian--to say what they really thought. And he wrote with a dry humor that made me laugh, daily. I was impressed. For the first time in a very long time, here was a place where I could go and express things long held inside. And here was a place where people like me could come and realize -- "Hey, I am not alone."

So when I heard Jason had a new book coming out, O ME OF LITTLE FAITH, a memoirs of his journey through Christianity and his struggle with doubt, I begged him to let me review it. So here I am, but as I write this, I find suddenly that words fail me. How do you comment on another person's barefaced honesty? How do you explain to someone else how amazing it is to read what another Christian, being open and real, has to say about his innermost thoughts and fears and doubts? I'm not sure, but I'll give it a try.

First, I have to say that almost every sentence in Jason's book makes me stop and think. The word "thought-provoking" seems very lame in trying to convey the real impact this book had on me. His experiences in church, in revivals, in daily life, mirror the very real spiritual awakenings--or lack of--and questions that arise in a Christian's life. There is no pious preaching in these pages, and no "Christianspeak" meant to evoke an emotional response in the reader. There is just straight out "Here's what I think, what I've questioned, what I wonder about" coupled with some good old Jason Boyett humor, historical and Biblical references, and honest reflections.

There are specific doubts addressed in the book, but no real conclusions reached. If you're expecting a book that features some kind of heart-shattering realization by its author as he reaches a Heaven-sent level of understanding, this might not be the book for you. This is a book of frank self-appraisal by a Christian who has walked out of the box of the intellectual constrictions often placed upon us by the church, our pastors, our teachers, and ourselves. This is a book that asks some hard questions that can't really be answered. Yet in this same book there is a call to faith that cannot be ignored, along with an admonition to keep believing, that is both reassuring and real.

As someone who eventually learned in her evangelical life that she was never quite in step with the rest of her Christian friends, finding Jason's website, (, and reading his book, has meant a lot to me. O ME OF LITTLE FAITH not only sends a breath of fresh air careening through the often stuffy realm of Christian publications, but contains a message borne on the winds of honesty, courage, and compassion.

Next time -- What the Misfit Christian blog is all about.