the question we long to answer

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{I’ll come right out and tell you: I have stage fright. The kind which tongue-ties a person in knots because how do you tell the world what’s been gnawing your gut for years? There is pain and loneliness of being outside the gates of whatever in life, but there is also hope. How do I convey even a morsel of that in one single shot?}

Writing this first post felt like a ton of bricks. I wrote three entirely different ones and even a few half-written ones, as well.

Somewhere in our lives {maybe even now}, we lived outside the camp. We know of isolation and rumors and devastation. We know of fractures and slow-as-molasses redemption and severed ties. We know of illness and death and separation.

Outside the gates is not for the faint of heart.

My two boys have loved camping in piney woods and finding rocks they were sure were rarefied gems. To my “untrained” eyes, I only saw milky quartz. But to them, they were precious gemstones and I was not changing their minds. There is something about finding rocks yourself which turns them into treasures.

And I hint at this because perhaps this place is about the treasure of finding each other even when we think ourselves an ordinary milky quartz?

Maybe the best beginnings are the ones already told. Because good beginnings (this side of Heaven) have history too. The following are recent excerpts of mine which sum things up from a vantage of three years worth of summing. This is the tip of an iceberg.


{Edited and compiled}

“No matter how long we age, or how our bones creak, or our hair thins, or our once supple skin leathers with years, we never outgrow a desire for community. It is both the ache and the longing of a home never fully built this side of Heaven.

And there are some who say we just need Jesus and they’d be right.  But we don’t think ourselves better than Him and so we ask, “Where’s our twelve?” By golly, “where’s our two or three, for that matter?”

There are so many of us living outside the city walls, outside the gates with their keepers, and out here, there are no road maps for finding each other. 

We are the Paul’s in life. The one who wrote most of his letters from prison, isolated, and cutoff from the rest of them. A small number of friends tended him while he was forced to reach others by letter or word of mouth.

Is this not what we’ve become? A modern day Paul, writing one another from our little grease spot in the world?

Maybe this outside-place is where we give a leg up to others who find themselves here too. Maybe it’s about dusting eachother off and commiserate how, exactly, we got booted here. Because we need community like a good neighbor. We can be standing in a crowd and still feel like a lone leper.

And if we should be lepers, then give us a colony. 

Because there’s one thing we’ve learned about being outside the city gates: we are being refined in our small corner of the world. 

And what better way to encourage one other than from these inter-webs. We can listen to one another, write out our thoughts, read our stories, lift up in prayer, and slip messages, too. Our connections are different, but they are just as real. Maybe we don’t always get together in a kum-bah-ya ’round the campfire eating S’mores, kinda way. But we can share letters.

We can be the lepers forming.

Because I’ve ached a good many years and perhaps it’s time to share the ache with others? Because I’m not alone.

We’ve discovered that community can be one of the sweetest ways to experience Jesus. But it is not always that way. We’ve known hurt in community too. There is hope in the pain.

But sometimes the pain is blinding us at the moment.  

Will you join us in the journey of sharing and receiving Hope? You don’t have to be a writer to give some of that.  

Because this a circle.

Even Jesus knew of circles. “He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers!'” Mark 3:34

 So we congregate around the shape of the globe we live on and say “Here we are…”

And so I ask:

“Will you be my ‘mothers and brothers’ and sisters?”



****the pursuit of GodFREE book give away: “The Pursuit of God” by AW Tozer, edited by James L. Synder. “In this hour of all but universal darkness: one cheering gleam appears within the fold of conservative Christianity there are to be found increasing numbers of persons whose religious lives are marked by a growing hunger after God Himself. They are eager for spiritual realities and will not be put off with words, nor will they be content with correct ‘interpretations’ of truth.” Preface, AW Tozer

To Enter:

  1. Leave a Comment. If you already have this book, leave a comment anyway and if your name is drawn, we’ll send the book to whomever you choose.
  2. Share this with at least one other person in the world.
  3. We’ll draw a name and announce it next week. We’ll contact you privately for mailing information.
  4. Thanks! We look forward to hearing your stories.


Half the battle out here, are the lack of roads. Let’s build some, why don’t we? If you blog, help us find you by writing a post and sharing it below.

37 Comments on “the question we long to answer”

  1. Outside the city gate and a leper may I be…the ache is real, secluding oneself for a reason; distrust. I find myself when I write and then once again, I see just why I am a leper- love this post…

  2. I did a personality profile recently, and found for the first time that I have a strong sense of community so hate the prospect of people being excluded, myself or others. It was a revelation! So I’m well and truly in!

  3. There are so many reasons I need this community right now. I’ve been writing since I was 12 years old and God provided a respite from writing when we adopted our first child 24 years ago. He was subsequently diagnosed with autism at age 3 and we’ve poured our life into raising our children. He has a “severely normal” sister who is 23. This year will bring the new chapter of empty nesters to our life when our son moves to a wonderful residence with two other men who also have autism. I launch my blog on February 1–the same month I turn 55 years young. Over two decades of life lessons are stored in my heart and I’ve recently come to the conclusion that it really doesn’t matter if anyone follows my blog. I. must. do. this. for. me. Thank you, Kelli Woodford, for posting the link to “outside the city gate”. I certainly understand the pain of being there and look forward to connectivity, community and communion. I’ll be sharing this post with a dear friend who I hope will join us.

  4. Lovely! I especially love your call for a colony of lepers! 🙂 I can relate.

    Today, I read one of the finest definitions of love. “Love means an interior and spiritual identification with one’s brother, so that he is not regarded as an ‘object’ to ‘which’ one ‘does good.’ Love takes one’s neighbor as one’s self…” T. Merton

    Keep going!

  5. Lovely! I especially love your call for a colony of lepers. I can relate!

    Today, I read one of the finest definitions of love. “Love means an interior and spiritual identification with one’s brother, so that he is not regarded as an ‘object’ to ‘which’ one ‘does good.'” T. Merton

    Keep going!

  6. Tammy, you’ve communicated so beautifully how I’m living my life. This already feels like a sacred, a hallowed place. May it be a light for those living in the shadows.

  7. Pingback: Weekend Wanderings - Kris Camealy | Kris Camealy

  8. So looking forward to our “gatherings”. I have been “outside” for a while now. Until next week 😉

  9. Pingback: What's in Store for Us, 2014 in Review, & Link Ups - outside the city gate

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