Monday, October 20, 2014

Is Life happening to You?--Part 2

Is Life happening to You?--Part 2
Ah, steps.
Lastweek, I offered two first steps to being people who intentionally choose their life, as opposed to the kind of human default of passively letting life happen to us.

For most, though not all, of us, we have the choice. But it takes work. It's easier to let life happen. It's much harder to examine it and make changes. Like Fiyero says in Wicked, “Why invite stress in? Stop studying strife, and learn to live the unexamined life." (At this point he's not very heroic. So . . . not words of wisdom really.)

Steps #1 and #2 last week:
Figure out what my priorities are.
Ask god if they are his priorities. (adjust accordingly.)

This week, 3 and 4.


Do my actions line up with those priorities?

Here is the tough part. We can have great priorities—on paper. But when daily decisions come calling, do the choices we make display our three words? Do we choose love over anger? Do we choose to forego a bonus at work to have more time with our family? Do we choose to take our kid out of travel soccer so you can say yes to serving others?

When it comes down to those decisions, do we consciously let life overrun us with its status quo, or do we take the wheel and steer it where we have chosen for it to go?

I think this is where most of us fail. We mean well. But the tyranny of the urgent takes over. The law of physics that says whatever our current state of movement is, that's where we're likely to stay. It takes conscious effort to rebel and override the system. What do our actions, not our intentions, say about our priorities?

Even more steps.

Create a next step to make it real.

What will you do now? A plan is awesome. A plan without actual, concrete steps toward the goal is just a lovely Facebook meme.

For instance, suppose your three words are “give more freely.” (Totally making this up on the fly here.) One of the things you do to make that happen is sign up for a 6k run/walk to benefit clean water initiatives. (OK, not making that up. I'm doing that.) Then you realize you're in such bad shape you breathe heavily walking to the mailbox.

And smiley faces. Because  . . .
you  made it.
Next step: Walk a half mile tomorrow. Walk five minutes more each day. Not fast. Not perfectly. But the next real step is to start walking and then up that distance gradually. It's simple. Achievable. Doable. And easy to gauge if it really gets done. See how much more likely that is to happen than a vague goal of “I want to do something to help other people”?

What do your actions says about your priorities? What's your next step? I'd love to hear! 
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Monday, October 13, 2014

Is Life Happening to You?--Part 1

Pastors deal with people a lot. This should be self-evident, but it came as a bit of a shock to my introverted soul to learn I would be spending so much time interacting with people.

Fortunately, I've also learned that people are pretty interesting, so it's all good.

Life happens to insets. They hatch. They lay eggs.
They die. End of story. 
Out of all these interactions, I've found there are generally two different kinds of people. (No, that is not a punchline for anything. Totally serious here.)

--Those who let life happen to them, and
--Those who choose what happens.

It's not scientific or anything, but personal experience tells me there are a lot more of type One. I know it's my default. I think most of us find it a lot easier to be a victim of our own lives, or at least a bystander.

It's hard work to paddle the boat instead of just letting it drift. Sometimes, the current taking us one direction is strong, and fighting it is a long, exhausting struggle. Plus, let's be honest. We don't have to feel bad if we can say, “I couldn't help it. Things just happen.”

It's easier to let life happen to us. But it's not better.

Have you ever found yourself saying things like, “I don't ever have time for . . .” “I don't know how that happened.” “I'd love things to change, but I can't do anything about it.” “If only . . . had not happened/would happen. Then things would be better.”

That's letting life happen to you talk. It's chosen victimhood, assuming that something outside of yourself has to happen before you will have the life you want to have.

Obviously, there are things that happen. We don't control cancer. Or people who hurt us. People in other parts of the world are helpless when faced with persecution and kidnapping. Girls in Nigeria truly don't choose their life. But for most of us, we're really not victims. We've just never learned how to be type 2—those who chose what happens.

These guys, on the other hand. They make their choices.
(Except maybe being put in cages. But this is a rescue,
not a circus.)
I've been doing some thinking, and some rearranging, to make sure I don't fall into that default mode myself. Here are some of the things I've come up with to be the kind of person who chooses, not allows, life.

Figure out what my priorities are.

What are the important themes and needs in your life? The best piece of writing advice I ever received was to put the main idea of whatever I was writing, whether a 300-paeg book or a 300-word devotional, into three words. Yes, just three words. It focuses you. With just three words as a guide, it's suddenly clear what parts of a story or article fit the theme and what is extraneous and needs to be cut out. The writing is far, far better for the focus.

So is life. What are your three words for life? If you had to narrow your purpose down to three words, what would they be?

Ask god if they are his priorities.

OK, maybe you have three great words. You think they describe your life. But if you are a Christian, there's a filter to run those words through. Would God agree that is the mission He has for you?

Because someone's words might be, “Raise happy children.” Or “have job success.” Or even “great bikini body.” Whatever. But passed through the lens of “What did God put me on this earth to do?” they fall short. They may be good things to do. But they cannot be the end all three-word purpose for someone who wants to follow Jesus with all her heart, soul, strength, and mind.

In saying we should chose our life, I'm not preaching that God promises anyone the life they want. I'm not claiming that God particularly even wants you to be happy. (Sorry, recent pop-theological proclamations to the contrary. That just isn't biblical.)

So, telling folks to choose their own life instead of letting it happen to them comes with the caveat that we're choosing wisely. With godly intent. Otherwise, we may be living intentionally, but we're also living pointlessly.

Donald Miller makes the claim that a believer's purpose is to “save many lives.” That's a bit higher than happiness and success. It's the height God wills us to aim for.

So #2 in the quest to be a person who choose their life—make your three-word life theme something God would agree should be a priority.

Take some time. Now. This evening. Tomorrow. SOON. Examine the priorities of your life. If you had to put them into three words, what would you choose? What would God think of those words? Revise. Edit. Finalize the rough draft. You know—all those things you had to do in College Composition. Then please, would you share your words with me? I'd love to see what God is doing in your life.

I'll go first so it's not so scary. I think my three words are: Bring Jesus' grace.

That's enough for this week. Next Monday, the other two steps. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Pure Eyes, Clean Heart--On Addictions, Control, and Surrender

The last couple weeks, I have had the excitement of being part of launch teams for two books written by two friends which I believe can both be an important part of the conversation in creating families that honor God. 

This week, I have a guest post from Jen Ferguson with an excerpt from her book, Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple's Journey to Freedom from Pornography.

I love this particular excerpt from the book, because it's not just about pornography. It's about something I know all too well--control. Being the family police. 

I have never been in the situation Jen found herself in, but I can relate to so much she shares here. I have been in the place where I lived in fear of not being able to control bad things happening in my family--both my family of origin and my current one. Addictions come in all varieties, and the patterns are the same. 

When Jen talks about needing to "save" her family, I get it. I've walked that unending path. I know precisely what she means when she says that giving up that control, leaving it to God to save, is the most terrifying and the most freeing thing you can do for your situation. We were never meant to be saviors. But we are meant to be faithful.

So please, even if pornography is not a problem for you, I will bet you can find something in her words to relate to. I am positive you also know the fear of letting go of your control and your ability to save a situation--whether a marriage, a child, or a career.

Surrender--the most frightening freedom you'll ever embrace. But then it's no longer an unending path you're trudging down but an endless sky you're flying in.

Also--please pass this on to anyone you know who does deal with this issue. It may save her sanity, self-respect, marriage, or who knows what else? 

I am pleased to give away a copy of Jen's book today as well. Anyone who leaves a comment either here or on this blog post on Facebook will be entered to win the book--for you, for a friend, or for your church library. Thanks!

Jen shares:

For a long time, I took the secret of Craig’s porn addiction and I stuffed in my heart. I didn’t even really share it with God much because I couldn’t bear to believe this was part of my marriage.

In truth, I wanted to fix it and forget it. Rather, I wanted my husband to fix it and forget it. But could I trust him to deal and wrestle and seek Jesus for this affliction? Honestly, I didn’t. I didn’t trust my husband, so I made it my mission to fix the problem for him.

This is the only way I’d though we’d be able to move on in our marriage. I couldn’t let the darkness of porn keep invading. It took too much of a toll on me, on him, on our relationships with God. Sure, he was the one sinning against me, but guess what? The whole cycle stirred up cycles of sin in me, too.

I exhausted myself in trying to control his every movement.

Where are you going?
What are you doing?
Why is the door closed?
Why did you shut down that window on the computer when I walked in?
Why did you clear your history?
What did you do while I was gone?

I had become his parent, which, I’ll tell you, didn’t go over very well. Why? Because God did not design us to be our husband’s parent. He designed us to be his wife, his helper.

Craig writes:

“Now that I look back and reflect on it, I have some understanding of where she was coming from. Jen was scared. She felt her role was to protect our marriage and to protect me from myself.

But there is a fundamental flaw with this logic. The role of protector belongs, ultimately, to God. All that is required of you is your obedience to His word and promptings. There is nothing you can do to control the other person’s actions. No amount of talking, begging, pleading, nagging, yelling, or crying will help you be successful in this endeavor. You have to release that to God.”

Here’s the ugly truth: It wasn’t just that I didn’t trust Craig. I didn’t trust God.

I write:

“Something broke in me after this tirade against God. I realized that Craig’s captivity provided monstrous quantities of fuel that powered my desire to cure him, rehabilitate him, to help him become consumed with anything but porn. In that moment, I realized
that we had both become enslaved. We were trapped by different chains, but they were chains nonetheless. They held us back from Jesus. They held us back from each other. They threatened to keep us seated in our own personal prisons forever.

As much as I prayed that God would heal him from his addiction, and as much as I knew that he could be set free, I simply had not let God handle this one on His own. In my mind, there were too many things at stake—my marriage, my husband’s life, my children, my self-respect, his self-respect. Somehow, I had fooled myself into believing that becoming the porn police was going to ensure successful recovery. Somehow, I had fallen into the trap of believing that if I said and did the right things, healing would take place. I couldn’t help but try to orchestrate the whole process, because I felt if I didn’t get control over this situation, everything as I knew it would fall apart. Crumble. Cease to exist.

I focused all my energy on what he was doing and why he was doing it. In the process, I simply forgot to do two very important things:

Trust God.
Respect my husband.

In my attempt to control, I forgot to surrender. I forgot to let God work. I forgot to let God heal. I forgot that Craig belonged to Him and not just to me. In the end, I became blinded by the enormity of the problem instead of boasting of the immensity of God’s power. Chains have a way of making you forget the power of the one you serve.”

While Craig may always battle with temptation, so might I. The desire to control is strong within me and surrendering and trusting does not come naturally. But just as God used pornography to draw Craig close to Him, so God uses my own weakness to keep me within His fold. To rely on Someone much bigger than me and to be a witness to the immensity of His power and grace, reminds me to be thankful that I actually need to have very little control over anything.

Jen Ferguson is passionate about Jesus, her husband, and her two girls. She is the facilitator of The Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood and loves to encourage women to bring their true selves out into the light. She is the co-author of Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography. You can find out more about the book by visiting their new site,

If you’d like to purchase this book, here are some options: will release the book soon, but you can pre-order it here. It’s available for immediate download to your Kindle here. If you are a Barnes and Noble shopper, the paperback will ship October 10th, but you can have it on your Nook immediately by ordering here. Of course, if you’d like to order the paperback immediately, you can order it from Jen’s wonderful publishing house here (it’s on sale!). If you’d like any more info on the book, come drop by the website!

Monday, October 6, 2014

When No One Wants To Build a Snowman

So, I didn't exactly watch the Academy Awards this year. Didn't exactly watch

any of the nominated movies either, come to think of it. At least, the Best Picture ones. Still, I am well aware of what won Best Original Song.

Do you wanna build a snow . . . something?
This is not opinion but an assumption--anyone with a young woman/girl in the house under, say, the age of 25, knows the Frozen soundtrack by heart now. That is an assumption I might bet on, if it was not against some promise I probably agreed to when I became a pastor. You know the songs.

One of my daughters has even learned “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” in Spanish. That's how hooked we are.

I watched a sarcastic take on the movie a while ago, and one of the things the writer had issue with was how the sisters' relationship remained healthy. Wouldn't Anna have harbored just a teensy bit of resentment, he wondered? A slight tinge of, “Um, Elsa? Go fall off an iceberg. I'm done.”

He had a point. I wondered the same thing at times. If your sister refuses to let you into her life for years, would you feel like rushing off to her rescue and ultimately sacrificing yourself for her? Dubious, I'm thinking.

Do you wanna build a snowman?

Probably not.

Do Relationships Heal?

The more I think about it, the more I realize how amazing this healed relationship really is. Because you know, I've seen it. Up close and personal. In my own house.

For a number of years, I witnessed big sister locked in her “room” of isolation. I saw her unable to relate to her family, unable to let others in to the world she could not escape.

I watched her little sister sitting outside, thinking, “We used to be best buddies. And now we're not. I wish you would tell me why.” The scene manged to depict something that maybe the writers never intended but that is too common in houses where things are hidden behind locked doors.

Having magical freezing powers was a social stigma in Arendelle. (It has a name. It's called cryokinesis. How cool is that? Literally. Living with a mental illness has the same effect in our world. It shuts people behind doors. It keeps them from normal relationships. It terrifies them that someone will know. It ends up opening the door to really bad choices that seem good compared to the reality of now.

It tears apart sisters who just want to build snowmen like they used to.

In an animated world, I guess you can go back to the way things were once the storm is over and love has conquered. But in this world, it's a little more complicated.

It's hard to call through locked doors and get no answer.

It's painful to trust and hope and have it squashed. Again. And again.

It's scary to never know what normal is or how long it lasts.

It's tough to have your life controlled by things you had no say in.

Sometimes, little sister just walks away. Maybe for good. You can't blame her. But you wish for the Anna ending. The one with happily ever after. You know how unlikely it is. But you wish.

This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week. October 10th in particular is National Depression Screening Day, National Bipolar Awareness Day, and World Mental Health Day. It's a week that helps spread awareness of mental illness so those affected by it can get treatment and move forward with their lives.

I believe with everything in me we are all created in the image of God, and we are all deeply loved and known by him. Whether we choose to acknowledge that or not. Because of that, and yes, because I've lived it, I believe in treating those with mental illnesses like the beautiful creations they are. No one can do that if we don't let the secrets out of the locked room and be real about loving people--no matter what.

People living with mental illness are our neighbors. So are their children, spouses, and siblings. Love your neighbor as yourself. Learn aboutmental illness. Learn about warning signs and what to do. It's not a lack of faith or effort. It's so much more complex than that. It's just a few clicks on the internet to discover (from reputable sources, please) what mental illness is and how it affects you, me, and faith.

But those clicks might open someone's door.

Monday, September 29, 2014

What Not To Say

Coffee and I do not have  relationship.
At all.
Not everyone is OK with women in ministry. Well, that was an understatement to begin with. Always start with the obvious and go from there.

I remember the first time I realized this. I was on summer break after my sophomore year of college. The pastor had invited me into the pulpit on a Sunday morning to talk about what I'd been doing in school and what I felt God calling me to do. When I mentioned that I felt called into ministry, he asked what sort. As a joke, I replied, “I don't know. Maybe I'll take your job.”

This was not received as a joke. (It was by him—he was a wonderful, kind, and honest man. Wherever you are, Gerry Robertson, you are one of the best men I've ever known.) There was silence in the congregation like you would hear after an announcement that California had dropped into the ocean. I didn't know why. As a new Christian, I knew none of the cultural norms. I had no clue that, for some denominations, women could not be pastors. I barely had an idea what denominations were.

In the ensuing years, I've met people with whom I've disagreed on this issue who were gracious thoughtful people, and I've met those who were . . . not. I'm not here to debate who is right and who is wrong. I could do a series of posts on that—but I don't particularly want to.

What I'm going to offer are a few tips for talking about it together. There are ways to talk to women in ministry and ways not to, no matter which side you fall on. There are things to say and things not to say. If we all want to veer toward the gracious and thoughtful side, even while disagreeing, here I offer:

Five things not to say to a woman in ministry

(And yes, all of them have been said to me. All of them.)

Yes, I know where my spoons are. Usually. But not
anyone else's.

Where are the serving spoons in the church kitchen?

I don't know. I also don't know how to turn on the oven or make the coffee. Honestly—I don't. You would not want me to make the coffee. Unless you're going to ask the male pastor the same questions, don't ask me. Being female does not equate to knowing my way around the kitchen by some cosmic genetic cooking code. (If there is a genetic cooking code, I so did not get it.)

So, your degree is in Children's Ministry?

There is a reason my first career was high school teaching. I love interacting with teens. I love interacting with kids under ten solely on an individual basis. An entire room full of them? I think I'd rather take a job selling frostbite balm in Panama.

So no, my MDiv is in theology, in fact. Just like the question above, if you would not dream of asking my male colleagues this, don't ask me. Try, “Is there a particular area of ministry you're passionate about?” That opens a door for us to talk about so many things.

Is your husband a pastor, too, then?

Assumption underlying this question: You could not/should not do this alone; therefore, the only possible option is if you're helping your husband. It's so much fun when we are introduced in groups. Inevitably, as soon as they hear, “This is Pastor Richardson,” people turn to my husband and say, “So tell me about your church. What kind of ministry do you do?” At which point my husband, having a good sense of humor, says, “Well, I cut peoples' throats for a living.” (He's a surgeon—just making that quite clear.) “But you should probably ask my wife about the church.”

If you want to know what my husband does, just ask that. Then, if you're more comfortable talking about that, great. I love bragging on my husband. He's one of my favorite topics. (Although I have to admit to being far less comfortable talking about cutting out cancer than about theology. But maybe that's just me.)

I don't think I could take a women in the pulpit seriously. They're too emotional/hormonal.

I once had a fellow seminary student critique my sermon by saying, “I was too distracted by the fact that you're pregnant to listen.” Um, sorry. Next time I'll just . . . deflate. (To his credit, the professor made it very clear that criticism based on physical appearance was not OK, ever. I had some good profs.)

I am not this. You are not this. Which is good.
Because I've not seen an episode where they end well.
Some women are emotional. Some men are emotional. Most of us are just human, with a wide range of feeling depending on the topic. Would it be OK for me to say, “I don't think I can take a man in the pulpit seriously. They're unfeeling, sports-crazed, Mr. Spock wannabes?” Of course not—because that's a generalized male stereotype. I've never worked with a pastor it fits.

People should be evaluated for who they are individually, not as a herd. God creates individuals. We're not assembly line. Only Cybermen all get the same wiring. Hey, let's talk instead about the last sermon you did take seriously and learn something from. I'd love to hear those thoughts and learn something, too.

I read my Bible and I believe it means what it says.

I'm very glad you do. That's a good choice. If more people did, we'd be a lot less messed up.

I read my Bible. I really do. Every day. Almost. Heck, I spent four years of my life and lots of student loan money studying that book and reading it a lot. If I truly believe it's in the Bible and I do not obey it, I am grieved. I know the effects of disobedience, and I don't want them in my life. I read the Bible, and I believe that it means what it says. But I've read it front to back, inside and out, in context, and I don't believe it says I can't minister equally beside my brothers.

We can never have a rational, fair discussion if there is an a priori assumption that I am not as dedicated to Scripture as someone with whom I don't agree. If you expect me to believe in your integrity and devotion to Scripture, please believe in mine. Let's start from there.

Ask me why I believe in interpreting Corinthians or Timothy differently than you do. Ask me what I do with difficult passages that talk about submission. That would make a great discussion. We can still come out of it not agreeing. But we will have respected one another. And that makes Jesus happy, if I interpret John 13 correctly.

What do you think? Can we disagree and still be respectful and generous? How?

Monday, September 22, 2014

we are mamas

This weekend was Family Weekend at Child #3's new college. Of course, I went, because it's been four weeks since we dropped her off there and four weeks is a l-o-n-g time. It's FOUR weeks. Possibly, I miss that kid.

We had the privilege of watching a beautiful ceremony as she was inducted into what they refer to as the Mac Scholars program, a group of students chosen to pursue an honors track. Standing at the bottom of three flights of stairs, she ascended them to take her place among the other students. It's a visual reminder that she is taking her place in the world now, as well as in that program, and a momma can be both proud and sad at moments like that.

I am not good at saying goodbye to my kids. It's kind of a teaser to invite me back after only a month in. I've informed them all that it would be perfectly within reason for us all to buy several acres some day and build four different houses on it. I'm sure we could work this out.

With all this fresh in my mind and heart, I watch the news stories. And I realize—we are blessed. I knew that. But the sadness of goodbyes throws that reality into a light where I can more clearly see other mothers, and other goodbyes. And I know the truth.

East of us, other mothers watch their children being murdered because of their parents' faith. They say their goodbyes in both deep grief and deep faith that I cannot fathom. South of us, mothers are desperate enough to put their babies in the hands of strangers in the hopes a new country will save them from drug cartels that kill and enslave. It is an act of both hope and goodbye I cannot grasp.

We are mothers. We are together. And my own grief, so slight in comparison, breaks my heart for them and the decisions they have to make.

My child is where she belongs. Because she wants to be. She has been allowed to grow up and do what one of her heroes, Malala, nearly gave her life for-get an education. Freely. She will take the place God means for her to be without opposition or violence. And I know we are blessed and I have no room for complaint that she can do that.

My heart is broken for the other mamas saying goodbye whose daughters do not have a choice.

Today, fresh from our visit, fresh from watching child #3 go up those stairs and become part of her tomorrow, I want to remember to appreciate it. I want to remember to wrestle in prayer for those other mamas. To do what I can from where I am. We are mamas. We are one. I am more blessed than I deserve. 

PS: Speaking of mamas and kids and all that--There is a new book out TODAY that I am very excited about. And it isn't even mine! It's Amy Sullivan's When More Is Not Enough: How To Stop Giving Your Kids What They Want and Give Them What They Need

Amy talks about her family's journey from self-centeredness to other-centeredness. (Yes, that's a word now. Because it should be.) She also gives practical ideas on how to make that happen in your home. 

If you know me at all, you know that from time to time I will post interviews here for other authors, tweet for them, etc. Rarely will I flat out say GO BUY THIS BOOK. I value your trust, and I don't want to violate it by advocating anything I would not have written myself. So--if I tell you you need this, I mean it. Anyone with kids, grandkids, church school kids, etc. Take a look. 

Besides, Amy is just one of the best all around best people I know. That's saying a lot. :) 

Monday, September 15, 2014

50 Shades of the NFL

I had every intention of staying away from anything controversial this week. Playing it nice and safe. It's so much more fun. But then . . . all the news broke last week about domestic violence and how we must stop it and who is to blame and whatever shall we do?

And I remembered this piece I started writing a while ago and planned to use in February, when a certain movie gets released in theaters. But I think the time is now, not later.

See, here's the thing. We condemn domestic abuse in all forms, which is absolutely right. We call it out in the NFL, and we should. But when we wring our hands and wonder how on earth we can stop it? When we point our fingers everywhere for blame? We're ignoring the fact that it is part of our culture, and that's where it has to start to end. And our culture includes—us. 

We can start to end it when we start to change what we accept as culturally OK.

Which is where that movie comes in. Fifty Shades of Grey. Aka, How to Abuse a Woman and Still Have Thousands of Other Women Swooning over You.

I've seen a lot of explanations for why women read the book and are excited to see the movie. 

It's freeing. 
It's sexy. 
It's just a story, so there's no harm. 
She changes him in the end, so it's redemptive.

But what about when it's not fiction? What about women for whom physical and emotional abuse, whether in the bedroom or the living room, because there is really no difference, is no breezy little story?

Here are some statistics on the harm:

  • Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States, more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.
  • Three to four million women in the United States are beaten in their homes each year by their husbands, ex-husbands, or male lovers.
  • One woman is beaten by her husband or partner every 15 seconds in the United States.
  • 30% to 60% of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse children in the household.
That means that for millions of women and children, this is not a fun piece of fiction. It's their life. So here are the reasons I don't plan to hand over money to the theaters this winter.

Because to millions of women, pain is not romantic.

Statistically, there are women sitting in our churches whose husbands/boyfriends physically, emotionally, or verbally abuse them. They are there. They are silent. And every time they hear another woman talk about how “sexy” or romantic it is to read about Christian Grey dominating his girl, they're a little more silent. They live that life. It's not romantic, or glamorous, or safe. They are afraid, always.

Then they see us imply that they can change that man (they used to dream that, too) and that he's really exciting when he behaves this way, and they die a little more. We feel genuine compassion for these women and offer help and prayer. But it only confuses them when they know we find their real life great fictional entertainment.

Because our daughters are watching.

How about we prefer this fantasy for
their future?

Bad boy fantasies aren't uncommon among girls. Why do they say yes to dating the boy they know isn't good for them? One of the most common reasons girls go ahead and date that bad boy is that they want to be able to change him. They'll feel powerful and redemptive, and that feels good. They'll be like Anna, and we're telling them that's great. That it works. If it works in fiction, it will work for them, right?

That's the fantasy. But fantasy it is. A lot of young girls have this fantasy. They don't end up with the hot guy and the thrilling life. Girls who take this route find themselves abused, stalked, and threatened by the bad boy they believed they would change. Too often, they end up dead. 

Dominating a young woman is a sociopath pattern of behavior that nearly always ends in at best entrapment they can't leave for fear of retribution and at worst death at the hands of that man. It's cold, hard statistics, not fiction. The myth of “I can change him” truly kills girls. That's not redemptive entertainment.

A formerly abused woman tells her story:
During my first semester of college, I dated a young man who tried to control whom I talked to and what friends I could have. When he got drunk – which was often – he called me “a stupid whore,” he threatened me with physical violence, and he pushed me. Afterward, he would cry in my arms, tell me that he was broken, and beg me to help him. I didn’t stay, not forever, but I did stay for a while, because I loved him, because I wanted it to work out, because his emotional vulnerability made me feel more responsible for his emotional well-being than my own. Mine is not an unusual story. Ours are not isolated incidents.”

Can we look our daughter in the eye, or a niece, little sister, best friend's daughter, and imagine her choosing to be with a man like this? Tell me you didn't turn away and cringe. Please, stop telling her that it's OK to give up your dignity and safety because a man is attractive and you feel good being his personal Messiah. It never ends well outside of fiction.

Because our husbands need to know they're enough.

Think about it a minute. When a woman bids her husband goodbye and heads out to the theater, consider what he's feeling. You know, that man you promised to honor through everything life throws at you? Sorry, dude. You're not exciting enough. You're not good enough. You're just not . . . enough.

Real Supermen? They do dishes. There is nothing sexier
than a man doing dishes.
In real life, a husband may work long hours, have dirt or grease under his fingernails, and forget about the baby spitup on his sleeve. He gets tired, cranky, and sick. In real life, there aren't very many men with no real work to do, good looks that never get messed by playing with the kids or sweating through a car repair, and enough money to give a woman anything she desires.

Most husbands are normal, average guys trying to do their best for their wives and keep their wedding vows in good and bad. Don't tell them that's not good enough. Ladies, that's as good as it gets. That's amazing. That's a blessing from God, and don't forget it.

It's not only the NFL culture that turns a blind eye to domestic violence. It's our culture as a whole when we take the same real thing that happened in a elevator and put it in a bedroom story and call it entertainment. It's not harmless. It's not fiction. And it's totally our call whether we want our daughters to believe the myth or not. I choose not.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

30 Days of Savings

Don't Forget to Pack the Kids

Think mission trips are only for teenagers and adults? Think again.“Because much of short-term missions is geared toward adults and youth groups, Richardson fills her pages with encouragement for bringing young children on short-term missions. Writing from personal experience, she shares the opportunities her daughters had to actively participate in service during a family trip to China.

She helps parents know how to prepare spiritually and practically before taking the family to an international mission with step-by-step instructions, She even includes a Spiritual Gift Inventory families can evaluate to identify each person's individual gifts and talents. For anyone who is considering taking their children overseas, this book is a great resource for encouragement, preparation, and settling back home.” Amy Bither, Free Methodist World Missions

On sale today only here on kindle.
Print version here.

This month only too you can win one of three Amazon gift cards by clicking below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tomorrow take a look at Lorilyn Roberts' The King, on sale here

Hobbits, Elves, and Dragons—More Real Than You Believe?

Hobbits, elves, and dragons have become common fantasy characters but do they have more relevance to your life than you think? Are they as real as, or the same as, people you meet every day? Maybe not literally, but J.R.R. Tolkien's famous characters bring to life real character qualities we all can learn from, whether good or bad. 

What can the bravery of a hobbit, the faith of a elf, or the greed of a dragon teach teens about themselves? How can their stories lead us to the real Kingdom where God is working out way more than a fantasy for his people? Dig in to these familiar characters and relevant Bible passages to find out. Come out understanding how to live your own epic story!

Other books in the 30 Days of Savings lineup:

Lorilyn Roberts The King 9/8

Michelle D. Evans Spiraling out of Control 9/9

Cheryl Colwell Secrets of Montebellis 9/10

Laura J. Davis He Who Has an Ear 9/11

Krystal Kuehn In Christ, I Am 9/13

Violet James God Restores 9/14

Emma Right Keeper ofReign 9/15

Pearl Nsaih-Kumi The Last Train at Sunset 9/16

William Burt The King of the Trees 9/18

Kimberley Payne Women of Strength 9/19

Cheryl Colwell The Proof 9/20

D.K. Drake The Dragon Collector 9/21

Jill Richardson Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World 9/22

Robin Johns Grant Summer'sWinter 9/24

Elizabeth Paige He's Looking for a Bride 9/25

Shoshana Rhodes One LambRedeemed 9/26

Michelle D. Evans Spiraling Out of Control 9/27

Sharon A. Lavy Deadly Secret 9/28

Lorilyn Roberts Children ofDreams 9/29

Dana Rongione Through Many Dangers 9/30

William Burt Torsils in Time 10/1

Laura J. Davis Come to Me 10/2

Kmberley Payne Fit for Faith 10/3

Emma Right Dead Dreams 10/4

Val Newton Knowles Everyday UpliftingYou 10/5

Elizabeth Paige Boo-Hoo Moo Cow 10/6

Jill Richardson Don't Forget to Pack the Kids 10/7