Exposure On Ex-Christian.net

ExChristian.net was the very first place I ever published. The encouragement I got from the readers (some of whom became friends) is why I wrote this book. So grateful.

The ExChristian website is a safe place to tell your story and to encourage others.  I had no idea how many people could relate to my experiences until I found them there. It was life-changing.

http://new.exchristian.net/2019/01/the-uncomfortable-confessions-of.html

 

True Stories

True Stories Anthology is a collection of stories by the members of The Narrative Project, including one by yours truly, called Close Call, a chapter from my memoir The Uncomfortable Confessions Of Preacher’s Kid.

All the writers are writing or have written a memoir with the help of our coach, Cami Ostman. Check it out!

https://www.thenarrativeproject.net/

YAY! A Review!

Reviews of The Uncomfortable Confessions Of A Preacher’s Kid are rolling in! I am excited to share what Valerie Tarico (author of Trusting Doubt) has to say:

“Caught between the archaic religious dictates of her Pentecostal family and the complexities of the world outside, Ronna Russell fights for survival and more in The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid. Loneliness, raw sexuality, unexpected kindness and cruelty, and through it all an understated endurance with solid granite at the core, Russell’s memoir is alternately hard, hungry, raw, and tender–like sex and love and parenthood and simply being. I sat down to read the first chapter on a busy day and instead read straight through.” 

I am beyond grateful to the busy authors who have taken the time to read and review my memoir and will share their reviews over the next few weeks.

The Uncomfortable Confessions Of a Preacher’s Kid, release date April 4, 2019, is AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER at a 15% discount directly from the publisher.

The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher's Kid full cover

 

 

Splish Splash

So I was lowering down into a hot bubble bath as you do in the middle of a Monday and this email from my publisher popped up:

Your book is available for preorder NOW and ONLY at: http://www.blackrosewriting.com/biographymemoir/theuncomfortableconfessionsofapreacherskid. If readers purchase your book prior to the publication date of April 4, 2019, they may use the promo code: PREORDER2018 to receive a 15% discount.

What this means is you can buy my memoir, THE UNCOMFORTABLE CONFESSIONS OF A PREACHER’S KID, right now-directly from the publisher for a 15% discount. The regular price is only $17.95 so you could buy stacks of ’em. And maybe I’ll break even on this little venture.

Current mood:

 

tub surprise - Copy

 

Closer to Love

I don’t know about you, but when I find myself pushing others away it is always- ALWAYS- because doubt and insecurity have crept out of the tunnels and popped up like bean sprouts in my head. Self-protectiveness lowers like a dark veil. Shields up.

I don’t know why old habits resurface. Probably just because they are old habits. As time goes by their reappearances have become weak and infrequent. The voices have less staying power, less vitality. The messages of my lack of worth are unconvincing and I am able to recognize the charlatanism behind them.

Which brings me to today’s Song of the Day:

Closer to Love

Because here’s the thing: holding others at arms’ length pulls us away from love and closer is where we want to be. Closer is where our people need us to be. Nothing matters more than showing up. We’re all one phone call from our knees.

Love, Joy and Peace to you , in December and all the time.

Deconstructing My Religion – CBS News

The show looks at what happens when people have doubts about the faith tradition in which they were raised, and how the sharing of personal stories can be a means to heal from spiritual trauma.
— Read on www.cbsnews.com/video/deconstructing-my-religion/

Finding God

The following is a story shared with me by reader, Steve Slocum. His story is similar to many of us: ostracism, family trauma, the reinvention of belief. And a long, hard path to healing. I am grateful for his willingness to share his story here.

Please allow me to allow Steve to introduce himself:

Steve Slocum is the author of “Why Do They Hate Us? Making Peace with the Muslim World” (To be released March, 2019, www.whydotheyhateus.org). He is the founder and executive director of Salaam a nonprofit with the mission of creating friendship and mutual understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims. Steve is a frequent speaker at churches, conferences, and civic groups.

 

Steve’s story:

I started my freefall into the mystical universe of religion when I was seventeen years old. On campus at the University of Arizona for my freshman year as a mechanical engineering student, I was captivated by the street preachers and began attending daily Bible studies in the grassy area outside of the student union. Like a dry sponge, I soaked up the uncompromising teachings of Jesus about forsaking all to follow him and loving God with all my heart, soul, strength, and mind. I found in this radical church group both a satisfaction for the spiritual hunger which had been growing inside of me, and the approval that I had missed out on growing up. It was a bad combination. I fell deep.

I checked out from my family of origin and disappeared for two years into a small Bible school in the Midwest. In 1992, with a wife and three kids, I took my whole family to the city of Almaty, Kazakhstan to be missionaries to the Muslim world. The more extreme I became, the more approval I received from the church – and I craved the toxicity like a drug. At home, my marriage was terrible. We hated each other. But as a missionary, I got my first hit of Christian heroin. I was leading an exploding church movement of Muslim background believers. The Christian world took notice. I spoke at conferences, gave interviews, and was featured in a mission’s film. I was a rock star, mainlining on Christian fame.  I loved my life. There was just that nagging thing about my failing marriage.

Even though I was a true believer, I began imperceptibly taking my first steps away from the church. With Kazakhs coming to faith by the hundreds, I became concerned about imparting to them an Americanized faith – a faith tainted from its original purity. I began a fresh reading of the New Testament and performed a thorough sweep of my theology and practices. I wanted to eliminate anything skewed by my American culture.  As my quest continued, I wasn’t fully able to intellectually process my growing awareness of just how much of my understanding was based on the overlay of an American cultural grid on the New Testament passages. I just felt a growing uneasiness and a desire to set the Kazakh believers free to create their own practice.

My passion for allowing the Kazakhs to create their own expression within the context of their own culture led to disagreements with the missionary team leader, who was also the senior pastor of the church there. I ultimately decided that the disagreements were too major, and that I should leave the church and the ministry team. Within a week after telling the senior pastor about my decision, he openly shared specific details about my marital difficulties with the entire church – things that we had privately confided in him – and announced our excommunication. All members and coworkers were forbidden from visiting us. And none did.

At this time, my son was a high school student in the international school there. His teacher, also a member of the ministry team, was instructed by the senior pastor to bear down on my son in order to get him kicked out of the school. This did irreparable damage to his psyche. My son sank into a depression and never recovered. A few years after returning to the United States, he committed suicide.

My faith was coming apart like a rotating planet with the gravity turned off.  I started to realize that the concept of being “born again” was bogus. People who claim to exclusively possess the indwelling Holy Spirit act just the same as the people who don’t.  Myself, included. If we have God living in us, and others don’t, one would expect that we might be a little different, a LOT different.

I tried to hold onto my faith, but the final straw came when I chose to end my marriage. I found it strange that, though none of my Christian leaders and friends had lived a day in my shoes nor would stand before God to answer for me, they all knew that it was categorically sinful for me to end my failed marriage. I realized that they, and I, had been looking at the New Testament as a new Old Testament. Just a bunch of laws and rules. Nothing about the spirit of it.

Back home, I continued to go to church for the sake of my two daughters, but the fabric of the church had changed since we had left more than five years earlier. Now all the sermons seemed to be about the evils of homosexuality and abortion, the need to protect our families from our evil culture, and the need to vote Republican. And this was in 1999.

I left and never looked back.

With a still-forming understanding of God and the meaning of my life, a few things have become a little clearer. I believe now in maximizing my experience in this life, and finding God in her/his creation all around me. Some of the things that help me do that are nurturing the bonds of love in my family connections, deep friendships, and vulnerable communication. Realizing deep and lasting change in my own life and continual growth, absorbing natural beauty, and the arts with all my senses, and surfing.

 

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