Make Yourself At Home

“My mom is dying,” she told us.

We were in a small coffee shop outside of Chicago when we met her for the first time. She was quiet and unassuming. She looked down at her cup of coffee while she told us the devastating news, the thing that was closest to her heart.

She was a small blogger with a small following. Writing was her passion, but not her profession. She worked at a small university, the same university where she had graduated a few years earlier.

She was a normal twenty-something with an ordinary life.

Except for one thing.

Her mom was in a hospital a little over four hours away. And in her free time, she wasn’t wondering what she was going to do over the next decade. She wasn’t asking herself questions about career and calling. She was holding onto hope that her mom might make it another week, or month, or year.

Each day I get with her is a gift, she told us.

We left that first meeting with Bethany Suckrow different than when we came.

Since then, we’ve had that experience over and over again. We meet someone new, listen to their story, and walk away thinking to ourselves: that story needs to be told. In fact, we were so moved by stories just like Bethany’s, we became determined to create a community where those stories could be developed, shared and enjoyed.

That’s why we decided to start Prodigal.

When we took ownership of Prodigal Magazine one year ago, we didn’t have any idea how readers would respond. All we knew was that we wanted to help people, just like Bethany, tell their stories.

We wanted to create a space that was safe enough to be honest.

That’s why we regulate comments on this site. It’s why we’ve deleted comments (even by our own writers) and asked them to re-post. It’s why we don’t post how-to articles, doctrine, or theological arguments. We’re not interested in arguments. We’re interested in your stories.

We all have a story to tell.

Telling our story keeps us humble. Over the past year, as we’ve told our stories of abuse, fears, struggles, failures and victories, we’ve learned that there’s no way to stay arrogant while we’re telling our stories. Stories let people into our bedrooms and living rooms, the places where we cry ugly cries, or yell at our spouses, or sit around without make-up.

When we let people there, they see us for how we really are.

And when we listen to stories, really listen, judgement and anger tends to melt away. We’ve accepted the invitation, after all. We’ve taken off our shoes and walked inside and watched you, pray, struggle, scream, beg, and cry tears of desperation.

When you see someone on their knees, you can’t help but want to get down there with them. You can’t help but put your hand on their back and tell them everything is going to be okay. You’ve been there. You know what it feels like.

This is a not a place of either/or, but a place of both/and.

It’s a place where Pentecostals and Anglicans find common ground, a place where we are committed to discover, through our diversity, a fuller picture of the Kingdom of God.

That’s our commitment to you. We’re not determined to build the biggest platform; we’re just determined to share it with you. We’re committed to helping you discover your story, to develop in your ability to tell it, and to grow as you listen to stories of others like (and not like) you.

Welcome to our humble space. We can’t promise it will be the nicest place you’ve ever stayed, or that everything will be perfect all the time, but we can promise that you are welcome, you are valued, and you are safe.

It doesn’t matter where you’ve come from, what you’ve done, or what you believe.

Come on in.

Take your shoes off.

Make yourself at home.

What about you? What’s your story? What’s stopping you from telling it? Will you share it with us?

[photo: meiburgin, Creative Commons]

  • Caleb Campbell

    So glad I found you guys.

    • Ally Vesterfelt

      We’re glad too, Caleb!

  • kelli woodford

    This is a beautiful place. Here’s to another year, Prodigal.

    • Sundi Jo Graham


    • Ally Vesterfelt

      Thanks Kelli!

  • Eileen Knowles

    Beautifully said. “When you see someone on their knees, you can’t help but want to get down there with them.” This is why I blog, to share the mistakes, my weaknesses, the lessons learned and hopefully remind others they are not alone. Thanks for all you do to spread hope.

    • Ally Vesterfelt

      Thanks Eileen, for reading and participating with us. We hope you feel welcome in this community. We’re so glad that you’re reading and engaging with the content.

  • Katie Axelson

    I love this. Love Prodigal. And love Bethany. :) To me, Prodigal has become a community of friends–old and new.

    • Ally Vesterfelt

      Katie, we’re so thankful that you’ve joined the Prodigal community this year. Can’t wait to see what the coming year brings!

  • pastordt

    This is just beautiful, Allie – every word. Thank you for putting your grand vision into such fine language. I am blessed to know you and to be affiliated with this space. May the Lord bless your efforts a thousand fold.

    • Ally Vesterfelt

      Thank you! We appreciate you reading and commenting. That means the world to us. Welcome to the community.

  • Larry Hehn

    I love the stories and community here. I’m looking forward to Prodigal receiving submissions again soon.

    • Ally Vesterfelt

      Thanks Larry. We are too. We’re excited to get things up and running again this year! Can’t wait to read what you have coming.

  • Alia_Joy

    Yes, this. A fuller picture woven out of diversity and words and humility. Love that the community here gives people voice to their stories and a place to come to the table and sit with those words and partake in the fullness of God.

    • Ally Vesterfelt

      Thanks Alia. We hope you’ll join our community in 2013 and be part of what is unfolding here! Glad you’re reading and enjoying. Thanks for the comment.

  • Bethany Suckrow

    Prodigal was the miracle I needed to make it through 2012. I needed your community, your friendship, and as I mentioned sitting in my living room the other night, it has been a direct answer to prayer. I thank God for you and Darrell and Emily and Katie and all the Prodigal people that have been vulnerable enough to share and listen to stories here. I can’t wait to see what 2013 has in store for us. Love you, friend.

    • Ally Vesterfelt

      We love you too, Friend. We’re so thankful for what this community has become. It takes the shape and reflects the character of the people who participate in it. Thank you for being you.

  • suzannah | the smitten word

    a well-moderated comment section is so important. this is a beautiful mission statement. to 2013 and great stories.

  • Elise

    This is beautiful. Thank you for your heart and dedication to giving a collective voice to our stories that are so much more similar, connected, and inspiring than they look as we live them daily. 2012 was a year of milestones for me–living a 13 year old dream of doing mission work in Kenya, celebrating 5 years of bilateral hearing loss, and perspective refining. I realized that my focus is to share my story, talents, and training with the people in front of me today, trusting that the ones I’m supposed to meet in the future will be there at the right time.

  • Melissa Otterbein

    I love learning from others’ stories. Thank you for creating this safe, challenging, encouraging place. How do we share our stories with you?

  • Douglas H.

    Great article. Thank you so much not only for it but for the invitation to tell our story and hear everyone else’s. What absolute grace. I’m eager to tell mine.

  • Emily Wierenga

    i love you guys so much.

  • Shelly Miller

    Love this. It’s why I write, why I love what you do here at Prodigal. Our stories have the power of redemption to transform lives and give hope to a world clinging to sand. Blessings to you and Darrell for a prosperous New Year in your new home and here in this living room of words.

  • Sharon O

    my story is not done yet, it is deep and wide and i am healing from it. God is good.

  • ro elliott

    This speaks beautifully to what this blogging community should and can be. A safe place to learn to get past barriers and lines that would otherwise keep us from finding the common ground where we can walk together. For me, blogging has been a wonderful place for me to be stretched and to “practice” these virtues…and walk them out better IRL. Blessings on this new year…and I am looking forward to reading some of my new friends here.

  • Christy McFerren

    I love this.

  • Sonika Raj

    When we let people there, they see us for how we really are” – so true. I love this mission. Looking forward to reading and learning (and maybe sharing…)

  • KirstenofCleve

    The name of the online zine is enough to attract me here. I feel extra prodigal these days, and not just because I’m on the other side of the world from most of you.

  • lorisprayercloset

    Love it! that’s why I blog…….

  • Issa Owens

    I just found this site a week ago, as I was sitting down, and unconsciously worrying about my future and asking God in my mind why I feel this way? I do everything right. Starting having doubts, real ones. and just got online about doubting God. This site was one of the results, I read an article about single people, which I have been for a long time due to chronic independency. I visit this site more than 3 times a day. Just reading stories that match or relate to me, I feel less worried, and accepting that this is life, and we are all going through it, and we will.

    Really, thank you so much for such inspiration.