Book of the Week

Thank you, Lauren Winner!

Finally! An informed, Biblical, and intellectual look at marriage, sex, chastity, and singlehood. And to ice the cake, it’s written by a Christian woman who can write without using clichés or addressing her audience as, “Dear Beloved Reader.” (Oh, gag me now!)

Thank you, Ms. Winner, for being a breath of fresh air in the dusty old library of relationship literature!

Winner’s insight is rooted in having a properly Biblical and foundational understanding about the body, marriage, relationships, and the church, and on every point she hits the target. One of the most refreshing aspects of Winner’s writing (loved Girl Meets God!) is her brutal and transparent honesty, not only about the mistakes she’s made in the past, but also in pointing out problems within the church.

There are many Christian books written on the topic (no I haven’t read all of them, but I’ve read enough sappy “love waits” books to feel ill) and what makes Winner’s book different is her completely Biblical starting point. As she herself says, too often Christians compartmentalize sex, marriage, relationships, etc., and that it ends up in a list of do’s and don’ts without telling why. According to Winner, a Christian girl isn’t going to resist her boyfriend’s advances just because someone once told her that the Bible says “no,” and then showed her the reference verse to prove it. Rather, the girl’s choice will be influenced by her understanding of how God has created her body, why He created sex and what purpose He gave it, and how this particular moment in her life will influence her eternity.

Winner argues for the role of community in relationships and sex. She battles the world’s mindset that the bedroom is personal business by advocating the Christian duty to accountability. She claims that not talking about sex within the church is damaging to chastity. The church, she says, is the center of our community, and that it should be active in instruction, communication, and protection. As she says, “the church serves as narrator, reminding ourselves who we are, and why we do what we do.”

Winner also makes the brave statement that chastity is not a natural condition. God made us to be sexual people, but chastity is required in order to protect marital sex (what she calls real sex, hence the title). Therefore, chastity is a discipline. And as with other spiritual disciplines, it’s not always easy and it takes effort. She rightly reminds us that no discipline should ever be motivated by results (“I’ll practice abstinence so I’m more attractive to Mr. Right, whenever he gets here,”) but rather, everything and anything we do is motivated by the desire to conform ourselves, physically and spiritually, to the call of the Gospel and to be the persons we’re supposed to be before God.

The viewpoint she gives on singleness is equally refreshing, mostly because she reiterates that marital status has no affect on the universal need to live faithfully. Pursuing a righteous and holy life should be foremost in anyone’s priority. (Also refreshing is her questioning of the relevancy/appropriateness/accuracy of the “call to life-long singleness.”) The church should be asking its singles not, “Who are you dating?” or, “So where’s Mr. Right?” which only pressures them, but rather should be encouraging them by asking, “How is God calling you to be faithful now as you are?”

Again, relishing the fresh air…



On Relationships

...and patiently waiting, waiting patiently

I've been listening to last year's college conference speaker series by Pastor Selvaggio (College Hill RP) on the Song of Songs. The sermons have been like a big Daddy hug: encouraging and comforting. If interested, you can download them here. They're worth the click.

Word of the Day

1. very cold in temperature: a frigid climate.


On Being Completely Irresponsible

And loving every minute of it!

I come home this morning from class and teaching and ask mom, "Hey, how about a 12:50 showing of that movie you wanted to see?"

Let me say, from experience, that procrastinating school work to spend the afternoon in a movie theater with your mother is highly recommended. :)

The Painted Veil.

A truly beautiful film about the consequences of sin, forgiveness, and the freedom to love.


Christ and Coffee

So how did Christ reveal Himself to you today?

I saw Him twice today. At Starbucks.


I had a conversation with the Starbucks worker. He’s a friend of my brother’s and went to church with us once. We were chatting about life, school, getting real jobs, etc. I’m not a natural at small talk, but I thought to myself, “This is a moment when I need to keep going and not cut off the conversation to go put sugar and milk in my coffee.” So I keep smiling and nodding and listening to him tell me how his artwork is going to be published, all the while trying to focus on eye contact and not his very odd Mohawk. Then he says, “I really want to go to church again with you all. I’m not working Sunday mornings anymore, so now I’m free to. I really enjoyed it last time.” Had I gotten my coffee fixin's too soon, I would have missed an opportunity to encourage him to attend church.


“Hey, Veritas Lady!”

I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, but that was a new one. So I turn and here’s this guy who had been to Veritas a couple of times before, but I haven’t seen him in ages and completely shocked he’d remember me. He’s not easy to forget: a tall, middle-aged African-American man with a lazy eye. He’s starts talking to me about how he thought Veritas was really great and how he wants to move on from his truck driving job to start a college ministry with international students. He’s a very sweet guy and it was encouraging to hear his admiration for Veritas’s work. Had I pretended not to recognize him, I would have missed an opportunity for a rewarding conversation with a fellow Christian.

So basically, spend your afternoons in Starbucks and you just might be surprised by more than the great tasting coffee. Lesson: Be available, be open, and smile.

New Books

This week's World Magazine highlights some interesting reads. I can't wait!

1. Reading Like A Writer: A Guide For People Who Love Books and For Those Who Want To Write Them, by Francine Prose.

I don't want to write books. I just love to read. Sounds like a book for me!

2. Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women who Created Her, by Melanie Rehak.

I was a big-time Nancy Drew fan! She was classy, drove a cool car, dated the handsome guy, and could memorize license plate numbers in a blink! I just ordered a copy for $0.01 on Amazon. Yippee!


Fashion Police

A conversation with my six-year-old student:

Ethan: Did you make your scarf?
Me: Yes. Why, does it look like I did?
Ethan: Yes.
Me: Do you think it's cool?
Ethan: Well since you made it, I guess it's cool.


On Inheritance

Today's observation...
There remained among the people of Israel seven tribes whose inheritance had not yet been apportioned. So Joshua said to the people of Israel, "How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you? Joshua 18:2-3
I've been thinking a lot lately about how to live in the moment. I loved these verses because they spoke to me of the need to live now! and take advantage of the gifts God has given us now! Why delay goodness?

The chapter goes on to describe in great detail the process of the Israelites in acquiring their inheritance and it was obvious to me how much God cares and really does want His children to receive good things. So why do I wish for the "if onlys" of God's goodness when it's right in front of me? Our inheritance is here and now, let's possess it!

What is our inheritance? Psalm 16: 5-8 tells us,
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.


On Vocation

One of my Christmas break reads was God at Work by Gene Edward Veith. I have read other books on vocation, like The Call by Os Guinness, but this book was a bit different. Guinness's book focuses on finding your calling in life, but Veith, who works from a Lutheran idea, focuses on embracing the calling you already have in Christ. I appreciated how he emphasized that callings: a) change with life b) are for the here and now, and c) are whatever God is asking you to do for the moment, whether it is as a worker, student, mother, or citizen.

I have been struggling with my calling recently, being very unsatisfied in my schooling and career choice and feeling a bit lost as to what to do next. God at Work had two very important things to say to me.

1. It convicted me.
Veith addresses sin in vocation by saying anything we do outside of our calling is a violation of what God has called us to do. We sin through disobedience and restlessness.

2. It encouraged me.
Veith talks about the temptations we face in our callings, and how trials are inevitable. We fail; check. We want to quit; check. We get discouraged; check. These are the crosses we must bear in our callings. Things that go against our will, he says, are the crosses we're called to bear. When we're in the midst of bearing crosses; check, we pray. "However God chooses to answer our prayers, whether by changing the situation or by changing us, we have given the outcomes over to Him. Our part is to carry out our vocations." Heaven only knows how much I would love a shift in vocations right now, but it was an encouraging reminder that if I am earnest in prayer, God will either change my situation or He will change me. No other option necessary.

I also appreciated what Veith had to say about finding God in our vocation.

Luther goes so far as to say that vocation is a mask of God. That is, God hides Himself in the workplace, the family, the Church, and the seemingly secular society. To realize that the mundane activities that take up most of our lives are hiding places for God can be a revelation in itself. Most people seek God in mystical experiences, spectacular miracles, and extraordinary acts they have to do. To find Him in vocation brings Him, literally, down to earth, makes us see how close He really is to us, and transfigures every day life.

So it's off to another day of seeing how God will use me in my current vocation. How will He use you?



The Blue Zone

Congratulations, Colts! Yeah for the Super Bowl! Bye, bye Bears!

Disclaimer: I take back anything negative I have ever said about how ridiculous it was for the city to pour $$$$$ into the team and the new stadium etc, etc. Maybe they did have a point... And I am very impressed that they won. I admit to being skeptical. Hey, maybe I'll even buy a brick! :)


Life as it is.

- I've recently been struggling with prayer. How do you know when to stop praying for something? How do you know for sure when God has given you His answer? Does God ever answer yes?

- I started a different read-the-Bible-in-a-year program. It's been much more incentive because you feel you actually are reading the whole Bible. I recommend it.

- I've been reconsidering the term "Friendship Evangelism." Is it also just another method? Friendship is a two-way street and I think that we often forget that people want to give to us in friendship. We get caught up in the evangelizing part we forget how to be friends. I was reminded of this yesterday when my good friend on campus cared so much about me, inspite of her own miserable set of problems. I realized what a bad friend I had been to her recently. And simply that, a bad friend.



Winter Conference, not Water Closet.

Cooking for 130+ people brought...
1 burn
1 blister
1 very sore back
2 mold-filled lungs.

Damage is under control and the results are in: good times.


Recently in Life...

Ringing in the New Year!

A Chinese New Year by phone
Don't worry, Baby No. 2. It's just apple juice!
My High School Sweethearts

The girls dressed up as gypsies at the winter conference.

Who could resist such a face?



Bake by Numbers

21 cups flour
14 cups sugar
30 lemons, zested and juiced
28 eggs, beated and incorporated, one at a time
7 teaspoons vanilla
+6 cups buttermilk
14 Lemon Pound Cakes and 1 tired Shannon!


On girlness

Over the last year, my straight-as-sticks hair has become significantly wavier, almost curly at times. Strange? I think so. I had a friend lose some of her curls after her first pregnancy, so maybe its a hormonal thing in reverse. Yikes, I hope I'm not going through some freakishly early menopause. I've heard of it happening to girls in their twenties. Yeah, that'd be seriously disastrous.