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.
Adam Walker Cleaveland
Adam is a pastor, husband, father of 3 boys (1 living), web designer, blogger and social media geek. Adam loves helping to facilitate conversations on potentially controversial topics almost as much as posting cute photos of his son, Caleb.
He is a pastor at a Presbyterian church in Ashland, Oregon, where he works with youth and young adults and leads a local Theology Pub. While serving a fairly traditional church, Adam resonates more with non-traditional approaches to ministry, and would identify as a progressive Christian.
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. Addie is a mom, writer and Diet Coke enthusiast. She can rarely find her phone or her car keys. She writes twice a week at the How to Talk Evangelical blog, where she’s working to redefine faith one cliché at a time.
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.
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.
Elora Nicole is a champion of stories, channeling spirit-breathed words to bring healing and beauty to the hidden and broken in her path. She welcomes readers into the plot twists of her own unfolding tale at EloraNicole.com, where she writes of the mundane and the glorious in her heart and her Austin, Texas home. A teacher by training and a natural encourager, Elora helps others to tell the stories they’ve been carrying through her Story101 Ecourse and one-on-one Story-Coaching. A few hours with Elora, on the screen or across the table, will see the fire in your belly stoked and your own story ripe for the telling.
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.
Enuma Okoro is an award-winning author of three books on the call and challenge to the spiritual life. Embracing the classic spiritual traditions, the contemporary arts, and her uniquely diverse global and cultural background, Enuma writes and speaks on numerous issues based off of Spiritual formation, growth and holistic wellness, women and the transformative power of personal narratives, and our identity and belonging in a diverse world.
Born in New York City, Enuma Okoro was raised in four countries on three continents. Her academic background and training is in Psychology, Communications, Theology and Counseling. She is a certified Spiritual Director in the Ignatian tradition, and she holds a Master of Divinity degree from Duke University Divinity School of which she is the former Director for the Center for Theological Writing. Enuma’s work has been featured on ABC’s Good Morning America, NPR, The Michael Eric Dyson Show, The Huffington Post , Weavings Journal of the Spiritual Life, Sojourner’s Magazine, Burnside Writer’s Collective, Faith and Leadership, Her.meneutics, Neue: The Magazine for Leaders Shaping the Future of the Church, The Christian Century, Red Letter Christians (Tony Campolo and Friends), and more. She blogs regularly at Reluctant Pilgrim hosted on the Patheos website.
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.
Grace is an often rebellious but well-intentioned daughter of God. She’s a learner, a leader & a lover of a very patient husband of 12 years. She’s a Mama of 2 little boys therefore working hard to memorize all of Thomas the Tank Engine’s vast friendship base. Grace likes to think she’s Joyce Meyer meets Halle Berry meets Anne Lamott…but she also knows she shouldn’t think more highly of herself than she ought. She is a writer, a speaker and a program coordinator for a Foundation serving high school students in NYC & Kalamazoo, MI. Grace is an 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). Also, she’s working on her first 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. She loves social networking, photography, fashion & swiss cake rolls. She hates horcruxes and human trafficking. You can follow her adventures in trying to lead a purposeful, grace-filled, beautiful life on her blog, Gabbing With Grace.
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.
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).
Kristen is a marriage and family therapist and professor of psychology at Vanguard University. Kristen is the author of the blog Rage Against the Minivan, where she explores issues of identity, race, adoption, parenting, and the sometimes embarrassing indignities of motherhood. In addition to her own blog, Kristen is the editor of ShePosts, an online magazine dedicated to women in social media. She is also a regular contributor to Disney’s parenting site Babble, as well as to Huffington Post and OC Family Magazine. Kristen has made numerous television appearances to talk about parenting issues, including CNN, The View, The Ricki Lake Show, Good Morning America, and The Today Show. In the spring of 2010, Kristen lost her long and passionate battle against the minivan. It now sits in her driveway covered in crushed cheerios and remnants of her self-esteem.
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, and Storyteller
Nish is a dreamer, schemer, believer, trouble-maker, and rabble-rouser. She’s the founder of A Deeper Story Media 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 a compassionate activist on issues of poverty, women’s rights, and orphan care. She’s in the middle of writing her first book, and the process just might kill her dead. Nish lives with her husband, son, baby daughter, and two dogs in Salt Lake City, Utah.
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 a writer and an award-winning blogger. She lives in Abbotsford, British Columbia with her husband, Brian, and their three tines, Anne, Joseph, and Evelynn. Her first book Jesus Feminist will be published by Howard Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) in November 2013. Sarah is an editor at A Deeper Story, and a contributor at SheLoves Magazine. She is a happy clappy Jesus lover, a joyful subversive, a voracious reader, an unrepentant hashtag abuser, and a social justice wannabe.
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.