Alece is a New Yorker changed by Africa, a car dancer, and a loud laugher. She’s the founder of One Word 365 and a non-profit communications coach and community manager. Spend a little time with Alece and you’ll discover she’s an extroverted introvert passionate about grace, authenticity, and red wine. She blogs candidly about searching for God in the question marks of life and faith.
Andrea Levendusky sees art everywhere, waiting just at the edge of her everyday vision.
In the hijinks of her curly-headed, fairy-hearted daughter. In the daily gift of a simple home and loving city community. In the work of her hands and imagination to bring story to life on paper, screen, canvas, and plate.
Andrea makes her nest in Rochester, New York, where she balances the very tall hats of single mom, worship leader, and busy entrepreneur. Her design studio, The Organic Bird, brings beauty to business branding, purpose to packaging, and whimsy to website development. She approaches each project with an ear for the story crying out to be told and uses color and cunning to communicate that story to the world.
At the core of her own story is a tale of brokenness and Gospel redemption she’s still working to tell. Readers of The Organic Bird Blog find pieces of Andrea’s story sprinkled among original music, prints, and daily happenings of a candle-hoarding, word-loving, mountain-hugging, world-traveling, beauty-chasing, hope-clinging girl with a dream or two still up her sleeve.
There was a time when Addie Zierman would have used words like “Jesus freak” and “on fire for God,” to describe her faith. She has since learned that Christian cliché makes a rotten foundation when it comes to the complex, disjointed, beautiful life of faith.
She recently published her debut book, When We Were on Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love and Starting Over, which was named by Publisher’s Weekly as one of the best books of 2013.
Addie is a mom, writer and Diet Coke enthusiast. She lives in Minnesota with her husband, two small sons, and very fluffily dog.
Ashleigh Baker is on a treasure hunt for the poetry in life’s prose – a pen in her right hand, a bag of stories in her left. She strikes gold most often when searching the eyes of her three boys and home-at-last Marine. Since 2005, she’s been digging deep for the good stuff and sharing her spoils online, writing on faith, relationships, the sacred, scary, and everything in the grey space between truths. One thing Ashleigh knows for sure – beauty will indeed save the world, and she’s on a mission to find it.
Ben Moberg is a Christian gay man and is becoming less and less anxious about saying that. After spending his life in the closet, behind the lines of conservative evangelicalism, Ben, at last, came out and found only love and freedom patiently waiting for him on the other side. It’s been a beautiful last few years for him and his.
Other than that, in much more interesting areas of his life, Ben is a lifelong Minnesotan, a brother to four siblings, a son, an uncle, a world traveler, a slow writer, a Netflix binger, and he works at an elementary school as a paraprofessional. He has been hit by evangelicalism like a hundred thousand times, and he is a sluggish forgiver, but grace is having a go at him. He lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Christie Purifoy earned a PhD in English literature from the University of Chicago before trading the classroom for a vegetable garden and a henhouse in southeastern Pennsylvania. When the noise of her four young children makes writing impossible, she tends zucchini and tomatoes her children will later refuse to eat. The zucchini-loving chickens are perfectly happy with this arrangement. The chickens move fast and the baby even faster, but Christie is always watching for the beauty, mystery and wonder that lie beneath it all. When she finds it, she writes about it at www.christiepurifoy.com.
In the words of a former English professor, Elizabeth Esther is ‘sort of all over the place.’ Born and raised in a high-demand fundamentalist cult, Elizabeth Esther spent her childhood preparing for the Rapture. She also ate health food and had a lot of babies before it was cool to say words like “organic” and “home birth.” Actually, she never had any home-births, she gave birth the boring, old-fashioned way: in a hospital with epidurals. Elizabeth is an ENFP which is just a nice way of saying scatterbrained, emotional, highly-sensitive, (annoying?) artist-y type person. Her articles have been published all over the place except she can’t remember where.
Her first book, “How I Left Church to Find God,” will be published in September 2013 by Convergent Books, a new imprint from Random House.
Emily Maynard is an outgoing introvert from Portland, Oregon. She is a big picture thinker and big question asker. She likes Twitter, vegetables, fashion, Harry Potter, mentoring college students, new information on anything, and declarative sentences. Emily does her thinking aloud at Emily Is Speaking Up. After years in a high-control Christian culture, she’s finding her voice and doesn’t plan on shutting up anytime soon. She is not the Emily Maynard from The Bachelorette.
Share a cup of tea with Erika Morrison and you’ll likely find your chi balanced, your heart stirred, and the earth beneath you thrust heavenward. She’s a Spirit-led, poet-hearted, story-telling Life Artist. She’s wife to Austin, Momma to three handsome hooligans, and soul sister to a vibrant community of Christ-followers in New Haven, Connecticut. A compulsive creative, Erika gathers the stories and symbols of the seemingly mundane and weaves them with great panache into the deeper story of love she sees in the life of Jesus, and from life with Jesus. Readers of The Life Artist will find pieces of this story scribbled and shared online in the hopes that they, too, will live this Life as a precious, fine art.
Jesus following, lioness-hearted, big dreaming, student of life. Writer for A Deeper Story, Prodigal & Prism Magazine. Blogher ’13 Voices of the Year honoree. Natural hair newbie, abuse survivor, advocate, wifey, boymom. Non-profit manager, fashionista, lover of Swiss Cake Rolls, hater of horcruxes and human trafficking.
Essayist in the upcoming anthology, I Speak for Myself: 40 American Christian Women Under 40 addressing the topic of taboo. (Being published by White Cloud Press, 2013). Grace is seeking representation for her first solo book, Detroit’s Daughter, a memoir about surviving her father, her brother, abuse, racism, Christians, boys, and poverty, while growing up in inner-city Detroit.
Jason Boyett is a writer, designer, speaker, creator, and dad from Amarillo, Texas. He has written several books, including O Me of Little Faith (Zondervan) and the Pocket Guide series. His work has also appeared in a variety of publications online and off, fromSalon to the Washington Post to The Daily Beast. A relentless consumer of popular culture, Jason is the host and creator of the 9 Thumbs Podcast and a fan of Americana music, television shows on the USA network, and children’s fiction. His self-employed day job includes corporate copywriting and design, creative consulting, celebrity ghost-tweeting, and other paid professions that pretty much weren’t a thing five years ago. He blogs irregularly and poorly at jasonboyett.com.
Jason and his wife, Aimee, first met each other when they were preschoolers. They currently live in the house in which she grew up. They are the parents of two kids, a small dog, and an even smaller hamster.
Jen is a author and Bible teacher, against all odds and reason. She has written nine books, most recently “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess,” in which she wore the same seven pieces of clothes for a month among other weirdo things, so she can be extreme and bizarre. She is a terrible blogger and heinous email-answerer, loving the first and potentially losing her salvation over the second. She lives in Austin, TX with her husband Brandon and their five kids, three from regular procreation and two from Ethiopia. They pastor Austin New Church, drawing in the unlikely, working to bring spiritual and social renewal to the city and beyond. Jen regularly weeps over the plight of the poor, the orphan crisis, Subaru commercials, mean Christians, brave Christians, the American Church, sports montages, and she has never one time made it through a reading of The Prodigal Son. She is an introvert who masquerades as an extrovert, which means she once left a conference so exhausted, she fell asleep at her airport gate and dropped onto the floor like a corpse.
Joy grew up in a Christian home, and should know the answers to all the usual faith questions, but she doesn’t. She has delivered four babies, handed two over to heart surgeons in the hall outside an operating room, and buried one in a cemetery just a few miles from her home. She has no idea how she managed to marry a man who would love her and their kids through all of the upheaval, but she did. She has been writing since the second grade and blogging since 2005. She currently works as Director of Social Engagement for Feed The Children.
Kelley Nikondeha is a thinker, connector, advocate, avid reader, mother of two beautiful children, lover of God’s justice & jubilee. She leads theological conversations at Amahoro Africa and is chief storyteller for Communities of Hope. Kelley lives her life in transit between Arizona and Burundi. She’s in transit between continents but also in terms of her own experience of motherhood, discipleship, theological engagement and living into God’s dream for the world. She savors handwritten letters, homemade pesto and anything written by Walter Brueggemann. She’s fueled by space and snacks (and Diet Coke).
Melissa has a deeply rooted history with music, singing, and performing (even starting at age 2 with a familial audience and her hairbrush serving as a microphone). After singing soprano with the gospel music group Truth, Melissa was invited to become a part of the critically acclaimed, Grammy nominated group, Avalon. Melissa was honored with the other members of the group to have won the 2002 American Music Award for Favorite Artist in Contemporary Inspirational Music. She spent almost seven years in Avalon belting out the lead to songs like “Everything to Me” which won the Dove Award for Inspirational Recorded Song of the year in 2004. In her career as an artist, Melissa has also written and recorded 2 solo albums. Her album Next Step, which was released in 2009, was a culmination of songs and lyrics birthed throughout a season of wrestling over the loss of her 32-year-old brother-in-law to cancer. She is now working on a new project of both songs and videos that capture where she is on her journey now. This project will be released in the fall of 2012.
Melissa is now further using her passions to continually grow and challenge herself and those around her in her current position as the full-time Pastor of Worship and Arts at GracePointe Church in Franklin, TN (http://www.gracepointe.net). In addition to her full-time position as a pastor, Greene continues her platform outside of GracePointe spending her time speaking, singing and leading worship at other churches, conferences and venues, and writing with other artists and musicians. Melissa also is a mother of 2 wonderfully, demanding, and beautiful children. She’s also married to Ben Greene, her partner in this adventure of life and her best friend.
Once upon a time Micah knew everything there was to know about God, Jesus, the Bible, and how the universe works. This didn’t work out too well for him. One day he found himself admitting that, despite having all the answers, he barely believed in God anymore. With the few shreds of faith he had left, he clung to the hope that God was searching for him, and that he would someday be found.
Being found is more of a journey than a destination, and this is where you’ll find Micah today. Slowly picking through all the broken pieces of failed religion, looking for Jesus in the midst of it, being found by Him more and more each day.
When he’s not chasing his two small boys around the house, riding motorcycles with his wife, or overdosing on coffee, he attempts to scrawl out the words of this unfolding story on the pages of the internet.
Mihee Kim-Kort is an ordained Presbyterian minister and mom to twin babies with #3 on the way (very soon). Her current ministry is UKIRK (www.iukirk.com) to college students at Indiana University through the two PC(USA) churches in town. She graduated from the University of Colorado-Boulder with a BA in English and Religion, Princeton Theological Seminary with her MDiv and ThM (Religion and Society).
She recently published her first book Making Paper Cranes: Towards an Asian American Feminist Theology. Zealous about God and church, parenting and spirituality, and social justice (race issues, immigration, and poverty) she often has plenty to write about at First Day Walking.
Nish Weiseth – Founder, Editor-in-Chief
Nish is a dreamer, schemer, believer, trouble-maker, and rabble-rouser. She’s the founder of the Deeper Story network and her passion is to connect people and build bridges across ideologies for the sake of mutual understanding and advancing God’s Kingdom here, today. As a fierce advocate for social, global and political good, she has traveled to and written from Bolivia for World Vision and she is an activist on issues of poverty, equal rights, and orphan care. Her first book, Speak: How Your Story Can Change the World will be published by Zondervan and released in March of 2014. She lives with her husband, son, baby daughter, and two dogs in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Preston Yancey, Storyteller and Social Media Manager
Preston Yancey is a PhD candidate in Divinity at at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. His first book, a spiritual memoir of God’s silence, Tables in the Wilderness (Zondervan, 2014), is being written now. He runs on a diet of caffeine and God’s grace.
Sarah Bessey is the author of Jesus Feminist, a disarming and beautiful invitation to the Kingdom of God waiting on the other side of the Church’s gender debates. She is also an award-winning blogger, an editor at A Deeper Story, a contributor for SheLoves Magazine, and a passionate advocate for global women’s justice issues. One of those happy-clappy Jesus-followers, Sarah is a joyful subversive, a recovering know-it-all, and a voracious reader. She lives in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada with her husband and their three tinies
Sarah Schwartz grew up on a little farm in Oregon that her Mama’s family has called home for over a century. While her heart belongs to the northwest, these days you can find her in southern California trying to finish seminary, love a few people really well, and make her therapist laugh. She’s captivated by the idea of resurrection, and a God who brings dead things back to life. She writes because (to borrow from Biedma) most days she wants to be a poet, but deep down, what she really wants is to be a poem.
Pilgrim, perceiver, and feminist-poet-mama, Suzannah Paul writes love letters to the broken, beautiful Church at the smitten word. Home is (and isn’t) a Pennsylvania summer camp where she and her husband raise children and chickens, set extra places at the table, and trace outlines of the Kingdom of God.
Tamára is a collector of fine tattoos, an imbiber of cheap wine, and a singer of eclectic music. She works out her thoughts on life and faith at Tamara Out Loud, occasionally with adult language, frequently with attempted humor, and hopefully with God’s blessing. Editor of What a Woman is Worth, due out imminently from Civitas Press, she holds a BA in English and her five children, when they let her; she almost never holds her tongue.
Zack Hunt is a born and bred Southerner learning how to cope in a land bereft of fried chicken and sweet tea. After spending a lifetime in Tennessee, Zack is currently doing graduate work in History of Christianity at Yale Divinity (because spending the better part of a decade earning an undergraduate degree in Religious Studies/History – Political Science and then a master’s degree in Theology wasn’t enough educational torture). When he’s not in class, Zack blogs at The American Jesus and will be releasing his first book through CLC Publications this fall.