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A Letter from Carrie: “Theology with skin on”

I was icing cakes in preparation for a house full of 5 year olds while the news of the shootings in Orlando was coming out a month ago today. Admittedly, it is a challenge to process a massacre of such proportions while up to one’s elbows in pink frosting.

It wasn’t until Sunday evening gathering for dinner and worship with our church family – some of whom live a few blocks from the tragedy – that I started to enter into the grief of our city to let it sink in.

But how can it, really? There’s been so much bad news lately. A friend from our time in DC widowed by a drunk driver, left alone with his 4-year-old son. A young woman gunned down for her professed faith in Jesus following her performance a block from where our church used to meet. Cops outside our front door telling the scared neighbor that laws prevent removal of her unstable roommate without injunction or eviction paperwork – even after a woman just around the corner was murdered in her own driveway last month. Deaths and injustice in Dallas, Baton Rouge, and elsewhere.

It hit me that evening during communion. Body. Blood. The eucharist has never been more visceral to me. We’d spend all day secluded in our idyllic backyard celebrating life with our little lambs, then ventured out to come to terms with 50 senseless slayings in our city. Now, as we sang “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,” I found myself on my knees in tears.

But this is the miracle, isn’t it? The God of the universe put on flesh and walked among us, fragile as the water balloons at Fia’s party. Lived immaculately, died gruesomely, rose victoriously, and delegated the “body” work to us, his Church, until his return.

Google is a modern miracle, right? Whatever information anyone could need, at our fingertips instantly…

“Siri, what is ‘substitutionary atonement?’”


But as Jayson and I have been taking some required seminary courses this summer, I can’t help but think this is why we do this. When our friend down the street told me out of the blue that she had decided to go back to church and agreed to process it over coffee, she was acknowledging what we all know: people don’t just need facts, we need theology with skin on. There is some qualitative difference between mere words on a page and truth spoken by a face, lived out in real time with a counted cost. Since Xander’s birth, it’s become evident to me that my role in this season will revolve primarily around our household rather than campus ministry, to free up Jayson to continue his work with the Jesus Film. I take another step back from the “front lines” of ministry with mixed feelings.

No matter what – wherever we are – true views of God and his word matter much, not only in our daily lives, but in everything we do and bump into, from design decisions with JesusFilm.org to being good neighbors, to disciplining a stubborn 2-year-old or balancing the household budget.

We appreciate your prayers that our family would – at work, play and all the spaces in between – be good theology with skin on, speaking and fleshing out the bad news about humanity and the good news about Jesus faithfully and fruitfully.

Thanks again for all you do to partner with us in this – it lifts us up more than you know. 

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The past 6 days in Orlando has been rough to say the least.

On Friday night, a singer was killed after a performance by a man that targeted her for her Christian faith.

On Saturday night, a man entered a club filled with hispanic men and women, many of whom are LGBTX. He proceeded to shoot at least 98 people, injuring many and killing at least 50. After an hours-long standoff he was killed by the Orlando SWAT team, but not before he hit and injured one of them as well.

Yesterday (Tuesday) a 2-year-old was attacked and killed by an Alligator on Disney World property.

Our city is filled with grief, confusion, questions, and accusations; but, above it all, I’ve seen people from all over the city, and from many communities stepping up to hold up the heads of those who are weary, to bind up, to care for, and to tend to those who have been affected directly or indirectly. Blood donation lines were too long for everyone to give, and a local Chick-Fil-A opened up on a Sunday to provide food and drink to those waiting to give. Churches are opening up their doors to families that are too overwhelmed to plan funeral services, and providing space where grace can be abundant.

Our household wasn’t close to any of the instances, we didn’t know anyone at the concert, or at the club, but we could have! We easily could have had neighbors, classmates, or coworkers at the concert on Friday, and almost all of the same groups could have been represented at the club on Saturday.

The club is a block and a half from the hospital where our three kids were born, and where my best friend down here works. On Sunday night one of our friends at church was still waiting to hear from a friend of his who worked as a bouncer at the club (he is okay, he wasn’t working that night).

The singer who was shot was shot 2 blocks from where our church used to meet, a neighborhood we used to pray for regularly.

I don’t know where I’m necessarily going with all of this. I don’t know what the practical solution is to all of these things, all of this hurt, all of the accusations, and anger; but I do know that even this week (perhaps especially this week) that our God is Sovereign. He is not surprised, and He is grieved also. Pray that Orlando’s churches would broadcast the Truth of the Gospel far and wide, that the Holy Spirit would drive it into hearts, and that we would see repentance and belief as one of the fruits of this difficult week.

The performer who was shot was named Christina Grimmie. She was fairly famous in YouTube, and got close to winning the TV show The Voice. On Friday she became a martyr, and I believe she received her Crown of Life (Revelation 2:10). About three years ago she recorded “In Christ Alone” and I’m going to end this post with it:


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The New JesusFilm.org is Live!

The Jesus Film Project has launched two big things this week: Completely new branding, and a completely new web site.

I’m excited for both of them, but especially the website. The previous version was originally put together in 2008, and was in severe need of an update. There were so many pages, and almost zero of them were easy to find. Also, Jesus Film Media’s platform is now integrated fully into JesusFilm.org.

The site was an intense project that I had the privilege of working on as a user experience/interface designer along with an amazing team of designers, strategists, and developers! I’m quite happy with how it turned out and the improvements it has made over the old site!

Head over and check it out!

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April 2016 — Update on Whelpley Boys & Their Names

Xander Whelpley!

We are proud to announce the birth of our second son, Xander “Xan” Whelpley (pronounced zan)! He was born on 26 February, 2016 at 11:07am!

Our family takes names seriously. Xander is a shortened form of Alexander – a family name on Carrie’s side. It’s original Greek meaning is something like “defender of the people.” We hope that he will grow up to be someone who cares well for the people around him, someone who will stand up to defend and fight for the ones that the Lord puts in his life.

It fits well with our last name Whelpley, means “guarded pasture for small animals“. It’s rooted in the words “whelp” and “ley”. Whelp is easy to figure out – young, small animals, particularly dogs. Ley is related to “lee” like the leeward side of an island, the side that is blocked from getting the strong winds. It is safer to live there and farm there because of that protection. In our little branch of the Whelpley family we like to live this out by creating safe places for people who are in danger from the world around them, especially those who are defenseless on their own.

Micaiah Liam

Also, 4 February was Cai’s second birthday. We decided, back when we had Fia in 2011, that we would wait until our children’s 2nd birthday to give them their middle names. It gives us a chance to know them, and give them a name that describes who they seem to be growing into.

After a lot of deliberation, we gave Cai the middle name of Liam. Jayson’s dad’s side of the family has a loose tradition of giving sons a a middle name that is the name of one of their grandfathers. Jayson’s is William, and his brother’s is Albert. Jayson’s dad’s name is Bill (“William”), so we decided not to double up directly and used a shortened form of the name. The meaning of the name is “strong protector,” but it has roots in the old German name that means “helmet-willed.”

Cai is both a little protector & comforter – he’s always the first to “notice danger,” or be at someone’s side comforting them when they’re injured or sad. But, then again, he’s also the most likely in our family to stomp his feet, be generally stubborn, and scream his requests (or “demands with a ‘please.'”).

Cai loves Xander very, very much!

On the Road Again

As we all know, kids are expensive. Starting last month, I’ve stepped back from my team for a couple of months to work on our ministry funding. I am thankful for some time where I can work from home, but I am also going to need to travel a bit. Pray four our growing family, and for our safety & sanity. The Lord has always blessed us faithfully in our finances; pray that we’d continue to be faithful to do our part to seek it out, and that our needs would be met quickly so I can get back to work!

Grace & Peace,