Dreamland Burning: a review

posted in: Books, World Events | 1

Earlier this week, so many of us in North America got to witness a beautiful display of God’s creativeness.  I was in the path of totality in SC, and I loved standing there, holding my almost 4 year old, seeing the moon cover the sun, shining in all of its glory, pointing directly to its Creator.

We don’t need to wait another 99 years to be in the path of totality witness the beauty of God the Creator.  We can see it every day.  In the people around us.  Whatever color we are, God created us all.

Dreamland Burning is definitely not my typical book I pick up.  But, when I have a deadline to return it to the library, I literally read 75% of it in one day.  It is so good.

Dreamland Burning is a YA fiction set in both modern day Tulsa, and in 1921 Tulsa.  It shares the story of a high school girl named Rowan (modern day) and a boy named William in 1921.  Amazingly, I didn’t get confused going back and forth, which means her writing two timelines was well-done.

Latham, the author, doesn’t make the connections of the two really cheesy or too predictable.  She uses words and names that are crucial to the story, but doesn’t use them for shock value.  She tells of the happenings, especially in 1921, in such a way that you know what’s going on but doesn’t drag out the details.

This book was captivating and I might recommend it for high school seniors, but would definitely not let them read it on their own.

Here are some thoughts: I wish books like this didn’t need to happen.  I wish my boys could grow up in a world where color really didn’t matter.  I wish my little boy could always have a little friend, named Austen, who is black, lives next door, have birthdays in the same week, and no one would ever thinks that’s odd.  I wish we didn’t pick out county that we lived in because the schools are better.  I wish churches didn’t have to exist so they could be the reconciliation – because reconciliation wouldn’t need to happen.

But, we live in a sinful world.  The only world where we will ever be free of racial injustice is heaven.  And for sure, there will be people of every race in Heaven, worshipping Jesus, because Jesus died for every race, tribe, tongue, and nation.

In the meantime, since we live in a sin-filled, broken world, we need to talk about race, the gospel of reconciliation, and how we can pursue peace.

Reclaiming Father’s Day

posted in: Uncategorized | 0


This weekend coming up holds a special holiday.  It is definitely not as highly promoted as Mother’s Day – but that is a fault of the American public.  I hope by now you have bought cards, planned meals, and bought gifts as a way to show appreciation to the Father in your life.

As I was at Target the past few weeks, I’ve been highly disappointed in the types of Father’s Day cards out there to choose from.  The above display will show you a great majority of them and what their common theme is.

The aobve card should not be the sentiment of Father’s Day.  Fathers get a bad rap out there due to some of the population living up the cards and also the television shows that depict fathers as dead-beats, uninvolved, lazy bums.  This is not who God designed Fathers to be.

There are three overarching commands that Fathers (and husbands) need to be that God set up as a design:

1.  Protector.  I feel this greatly in my relationship with my husband and the father to our children.  I remember the way he drove us to the hospital before Elijah came along and the first ride on the way home from the hospital with eli.  He also is our protector here at home, protecting us not just from harm from the outside, but also harm from within (by what we watch, do, and listen to.

2.  Leader.  Men are commanded to lead in a Christ-honoring way.  This is a self-less leadership but one that knows that it his job to lead our family.  My husband/father to our children does this by choosing what we read, sometimes how we spend our time, and how he leads our family in financial matters.

3.  Provider.  My husband/father of our children is a great provider for our family.  He is a hard worker and has a strong work ethic.  I had that in my Father as well.  E not only provides for our family financially, but provides a strong Christian-spirit for our home.

Bodily noises and beer should not be the focus of our celebration of our fathers.  But, unfortunately for so many of us, that is where we are because that is the type of father we know or have.  If this is the case for you, I pray you would ask your perfect Heavenly Father to redeem the time that you have with your earthly father and ask Him to work a good work in your Father’s life and heart.

How Should We Respond to Gay Marriage?

posted in: ethics, marriage, sin | 2

Every blog post I wrote has come from personal experience or a conversation I’ve had, etc.  This one is no different.

Yesterday on facebook, I was saddened to find out that a college acquaintance of mine, one who was in youth ministry with me and a professing Christian – now ordained in a denomination, was getting married yesterday to her girlfriend.  This saddened me so much for her.  On our long scenic drive home, the Mister and I were discussing what should be our response.  Here are some thoughts:

1.  A government-sanctioned marriage between two women is not a marriage in the eyes of God.  In our country many states may be allowing same-sex marriage.  This does not make it right in God’s eyes.  God would never rejoice in something that is an abomination or sin to Him.  See Romans 1:18-25, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

2.  Sin does not please God – so how could a homosexual marriage?

3.  We all sin (yes), so we should not counsel the person (if you have a relationship with them in the first place) in a harsh, judgmental tone.  Ephesians 5:14-16.  The reason I chose this verse is because the person in my life that got married yesterday is a professing Christian.  I’m not a judger of hearts.  I am also a sinner – a great sinner.  But, this passage is written by Paul to the church at Ephesus.  He is talking about people in the church who have been diluted and mislead by all sorts of unbiblical teaching.  For any to think that gay marriage is promoted by God, or right, has clearly been mislead by the Enemy.

4.  Show compassion; this needs to be our immediate response.  We need to be like Jesus in this encounter.  When he dealt with the woman caught in adultery, he did not shame or accuse her, but allowed her to be free of the sin and the entanglement of it.  Our God does show wrath and anger toward sin, but he also shows compassion on the sinner.  (John 8)  God the Father shows much compassion on me and I’m a sinner.  I would need to show compassion to my friend and hopefully lead her back to a right relationship with God.

5.  Call to repentance.  One of my favorite Scriptures in the NT says this “…God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.”  Oh that has blessed me and lead me to have a repentant heart so often as I’ve read with tears over my sin this incredible display of God’s love toward great sinners.

6.  What about church membership.  Let me say a few things: first, any denomination that would ordain a homosexual to be a minister of the Word of God and sanction and condone homosexual marriage is no longer a church because they do not hold to the truth of the Word of God.  Second, if this couple were at the church I attend, I would (hopefully) seek to encounter them, provide them with godly counsel about their lives and why their lives demonstrate that they do not believe God or His Word.  If they couple were members and then became homosexual or started living a homosexual lifestyle – that would be cause for church discipline and counsel and a desire for them to turn from sin.

7.  As I’ve been reading in a book about the authority of the Word of God in our lives: this matter of homosexuality (whether it is right or not) is not primarily a question of preference or sexual orientation or anything else for believers.  It is a question about what we believe the Bible to be.  If we believe with the Bible that it is the very word of God and it is profitable and truthful in everything it says and is useful for our lives to instruct us in all truth – and we disagree with what the Bible says about the “rightness” of homosexuality – then obviously we have a disagreement with God.  I have a feeling that I know who is going to ultimately win that disagreement.

As we get deeper and deeper into a country that is living in prevalent sin and as we see sin creep in (or barge in) to our churches – let us pray that we will know what the Word of God says, guard our own hearts and minds, show compassion to sinners, and call them to repentance (just as the Lord has done for us).


Strike a Pose

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

In a culture filled with twitter, Instagram, facebook, blogs, and other forms of social media, we are much more a visual culture then we were even 15 years ago.  People can take and immediately post pictures of everything: the food they eat, their babies playing or sleeping, and a group of friends at a push of a button on a phone.

In this world of visual demand, what does our body language say about our modesty and our hearts.  Modesty is more than what we wear, it is a posture of the heart.

Romans 6:13; Do not present your members (your body) to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine asked the question about why all the girls now pose in pictures with their hands on their hips.  I had grown tiresome of these similar poses, but couldn’t quite put my finger on it.  There were several answers and more questions in her FB feed.  Earlier this week as my husband and I were flipping through channels late at night, the answer became immediately clear.  We stopped on the last 10 minutes of America’s Next Top Model, the wanna-be model reality show hosted by Tyra Banks.  I used to watch this show every week, but just don’t anymore.  When the final contestants were chosen, they all pose in the same way: hands on the hips, and tilted somewhat sideways (usually not straight on because it’s not a flattering pose for most women), and chests out but tilted back.  This is a very provocative pose no matter what shape you are (or how much you weigh, or how many clothes you have on).  It highlights the God-given curves of females.  God did make our bodies the way they are: with chests and hips.  But, how we use them need to be for God’s glory.

Usually when we talk about modesty, we are referring to the length of our skirts, or the shirts we wear.  This post is more about our posture.  I’m not questioning any of the motives of the girls I know who are taking pictures like this, but just want to highlight some of what the outward appearance appears to say.

1.   Men are visual creatures.  They are drawn to the sexual – many of them are at least.  When we wear modest clothes, but stand in such a way that draws attention to our hips and our chest, or our butt (stiletto heels do just that, but also our stances), it doesn’t serve our brothers in Christ at all.

2.  Postures can say much about our hearts.  I can stand in such a way that says I’m not approachable, I don’t want to be here (the folding of arms, scowl on my face, etc).  What does what I’m doing or how I’m sitting or standing say to those around me?

This past week I was in a breakout session at a Christian conference, mostly men there.  There was a lady a few rows ahead of me with an almost sleeveless shirt on, arms folded behind her head, chest out, leaned back, playing with her hair.  She may have just been hot or bored, but it was distracting to me (her stance) and I’m sure it was also distracting in a more dangerous way to the men sitting around and behind her.  Was she aware of this?  I don’t know.  Just saying what her stance communicates.

If we want to stand like the Top Model models, then we communicate: look at me, here’s my body, look at these clothes.  If we want to stand in a flattering but different way, then maybe we could communicate what we want to communicate: gentleness and meekness, quietness, adorning of a beautiful spirit not clothes and curves (1 Peter 3)

A great resource that compares these two (Woman of the Word vs Woman of the world) is Mary Kassian’s Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild.

A great sermon to listen to on the Soul of Modesty is by CJ Mahaney – the best sermon I’ve ever heard on the subject.

How Many Shades?

posted in: Books, Uncategorized, Women | 4

Bandwagons.  I don’t like them – ask my husband.  So, I haven’t read any of the Twilight, Harry Potter, or Hunger Games series.  So, when a friend asked me to write a blog post about 50 Shades of Grey, I said, “sure!”.   I haven’t read Mary Kassian’s thoughts on this yet – but will get to it after I write my own thoughts.

I didn’t even know what I was looking for in the store, but I found it right away in my local Target store.  I was truly appalled at the few bits that I read while I leaned against the store counter.  I then made my way to the nearest Barnes and Noble to gather the trilogy in my hands and write this post.

I was really thinking about putting in some of those snippets but I will refrain – if I don’t want women to be reading this book, I don’t need to allow you to read it on this blog.  And, I really don’t need to read those snippets again.

Here is some of the back of the book:

“When the couple embarks on a daring passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.”

Classification: Erotic Romance – Mature Audience

The tag line at the bottom: “Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.”  Really…

Obsess you: There should only be one obsession in you life if you are a believer: Christ.

Possess you: The Bible I read already declares us to be possessions of Someone: Christ.  He bought us with His own blood and sanctifies us.  Women: this book will not aid your sanctification process.

Stay with you Forever: That is the unfortunate part.  I can’t erase what I read in this book, I can’t go back to before I read it.  It will stay with me forever.  It is damaging.  Don’t do it.

In this book these is sex, reversed gender roles, obsession, unbiblical habits that are brought out on every page, envy, anger, lust, need I go on?

So…this one is pretty easy.  Don’t read it.  I don’t know what good could come out of it.  Since I’ve been married, what I put in my mind has changed.  Before I could watch chick flicks or read Sweet Valley High (in high school) and Christian romance novels.  But, honestly, now I can’t. I love my husband too much.  I don’t want to bring any outside thoughts into our bedroom.  I trust him too much to do that to him.  He should be the one I fanticize about – not anyone in a book or on a TV screen.  (Note: some friends might know that I loved the Mentalist – mainly because of Simon Baker – I don’t watch the show anymore for this very reason.)

How do you guard your mind and thoughts and engage the culture at the same time?  What do you do with non-Christian books that invade culture?  Well, whether its with Sci-Fi, teen romance that is all the rage – really, adult women falling in love with vampires – how do you keep your thoughts pure?

I seldom just say NO to cultural phenomenons.  I want to judge for myself.  And with some reads or movies I think you can engage them with a biblical worldview and your watching of it will not do any harm.  But, there are some that won’t do any good.

One song from the early 90s I often sing (just because its stuck in my head) is “Free your mind, and the rest will follow.”  I know that song doesn’t have really much to do with what we are talking about today – but the problem remains.  If we “free our mind” from God’s laws and mandates that are made for our good – then pretty  soon the rest will follow: our heart and then our actions.

Here is some of the best of what the Bible has to say about this:

Proverbs 4:23-27: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.  Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.  Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.  Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure.  Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.”

Ladies: keep your eyes, feet, mind, and bodies pure.  50 Shades will not enable you to do that.

Art, Culture, & Jesus

posted in: Bible, Books, Events | 0

This past Friday night I had the opportunity to attend two lectures centered on Christ and the arts.  It was really neat to see how the two went back to back, different venues, and were so perfectly tied together.

Makoto Fujimura spoke at Duke Divinity School on his work of The Four Gospels for Crossway.  Bruce Ashford, from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, spoke at First Baptist Church of Durham’s Disciple Now Weekend.

Mako’s work on The Four Holy Gospels is astounding.  If you haven’t seen this short video of his work on this project, watch it.  His understanding of theology is much deeper than I would have ever given him credit.  Here are some takeaways from the 90 minute lecture and Q/A:

“Why don’t we stop trying to find everything wrong with contemporary art or culture and highlight what is right?”  I think Christians have a tendency to knock anything that is possibly different.  Fujimura’s art isn’t my primary style, but it is still beautiful and exquisite.  It is still done for the glory of God.  We as a Christian, conservative subculture (if you will) definitely have our opinions and would almost rather tear down culture and art rather than see the beauty in it – knowing that all beauty originates from the Beautiful One.

“The antidote for anxiousness in Matthew’s gospel: use your senses.  Glimpse the eternal purposes of God.”  He was referring to the passage that says do not worry, look at the lilies, look at the birds.  On a conversation on the way to FBCD, I was talking about this comment.  How the lilies don’t even have a brain to be able to worry if they are going to grow or not, the birds just fly and nest and eat, etc.  Can we live in that much dependency upon our great God or do we have a natural way of leaning on ourselves and fretting.

The speaker settled on John 11.  I took much away, but one thing I wanted to share here is about compassion.  Jesus’ compassion: he meets us where we are, takes us where He wants us to be.  My prayer: Teach me Lord to be more compassionate, to know people, to be a studier of people’s hearts, not just what I want them to be.   This takes listening more than speaking, gazing instead of passing quickly, hearing instead of running thoughts through my head.

Best takeaway of the night, and still need to ponder this thought and revel in its beauty: “Restrictions and limitations actually give you more freedom.”  I am thoroughly enjoying this right now.  Anxiety doesn’t creep in as much.  But, such mornings as this, I need to be reminded of who God made me and what His Son did for me on the cross.  I’ll be writing more about this in the coming weeks.

On to Bruce Ashford…few miles away from Duke Divinity, lecture 2.  Dr. Ashford is a friend, husband to Lauren, dad to two little (cute, adorable) girls.  He loves to speak on this topic of engaging the culture with the truth of Christ.

He spent about 25 minutes going through the metanarrative of the work of God in the world (creation, fall, redemption, new creation).  This set his stage for everything else he was going to talk about as the evening progressed.

How is fashion, food, photography, writing, and music all grounded in the meta narrative of the Bible?  He said all art finds its answer in the meta.  The meta shows a strikingly beautiful truth on every part of life.

How did sin corrupt: “spirituality, morality, rationality, creativity, relationality.”  Every one of these relationships are marred and scarred by sin.

Society is made up of families.  Genesis 1-2 says we are to build families, grow families – of worshipers.  Only problem with this is that we tend to grow families of worshipers of other things than Jesus.  What are we training our families to worship? (More on this later for my job.)

“Basis of every question in the world can be answered in the meta.”  God’s truth resounds to everything.

“All beauty should guide you back to the one who is most beautiful.”

Bruce gave 4 criteria for judging art:

1.  Technical excellence.

2.  Validity (is the artist true to himself)

3.  Content

4.  Integration of Content and Vehicle

How do you study art?  How do you anticipate and participate in art?  How are you an artist?  How do you see God in art?


Book Review: Living in God's Two Kingdoms

posted in: Books, ethics | 0

I was really excited when I saw this book on the new release list. I had been in recent conversations with friends about how they were personally engaging the culture, and I attend a church that seeks to “engage the city”, and used to attend a church (before I moved) that modeled engaging the city and culture very well. I was intrigued to see what David VanDrunen had to say about Living in God’s Two Kingdomws (btw, the cover design is really cool).
VanDrunen does a good job at laying out the outline of his book, telling you exactly where he is heading. He engages some of the opposing views and arguments that basically are the foundation of this new “area of theological discussion” (Neo-Calvinism, Emerging Churches, but this is not exhaustive).
I personally do not fully agree with either side. I think one side takes it too far, and one side doesn’t go far enough. Finally, though, the author basically states three ways that Christians are to engage the culture, how a Christian should live successfully as sojourners in this land we call “culture” .
1. “Christians should pursue cultural activities not with a spirit of triumph and conquest over their neighbors but with a spirit of love and service toward them.” (p 124). Wow – I think this is probably the toughest one of his three and I wholeheartedly agree. Even our redeemed status doesn’t make us perfect yet, and I personally often struggle with motive.
2. “The New Testament calls us to critical engagement with human culture.” (p 126) I almost wish his whole book would camp out on this point. This is where I try to engage the culture. I learned this well from a friend and professor at SEBTS, and I love reading through secular books, watching movies, and looking at art with this critical mind at work.
3. “The New Testament calls us to engage in cultural activities with a deep sense of detachment from this world and of longing for our true home in the world to come.” (p 126) This is probably the hardest for me to deal with on a personal level. As I get more into style, design, photography, clothing, I tend to step back into a materialistic mindset which the Lord has saved me from, but Satan likes to wedge his foot in my mind.
While the author does a good job at bringing in cultural examples and has a personable writing style (unlike some theological books on differing subjects), I think VanDrunen could have made this a shorter book and made his argument more simple for the non-theological to grasp.
A word for all Christians: you can’t engage the world by separating yourself from it. Home-schooling families who only allow their children to be friends with other Christians, people who will never go to movies, read secular books, watch television, own ipods, allow their teenagers on social networks…this is no way to engage the culture. Read more on VanDrunen’s point #2.
Wherever you land in this discussion: one thing is for sure: We are to be shining lights in a crooked and depraved generation (Philippians 2)

Workout Choices: Yoga or Rock Music

posted in: weight loss, workout dvds, yoga | 6

Working out: especially this time of year (or should I say in 2 weeks) this is what is on everyone’s mind. You find magazines, gym specials, tv shows, use-at-home products, new videos, etc – all geared toward one things…helping you work out harder and better. Whether your reason is to be healthy, shed pounds, have engagement with other people, or whatever…working out is fun and beneficial. As I was spinning this morning at a local gym, I thought of these things.
Yoga (for me, little y yoga) has gotten a bad rap lately for certain leading conservative personalities. My thoughts have been posted on this blog and you can read them for yourself. Have you made up your mind about it?
Then as I was in two classes: body pump and spin, I thought about another avenue…
Why do I need to listen to a crass instructor who makes sexual jokes during class? Why do I need to listen to rock music that talks about killing someone and uses profanity that the instructor blares at the right volume (the volume is not the problem). I got a great workout in both classes. Loved it. But…there are negatives.
Is there a difference?
If I attend a Hot Yoga class for 90 minutes and shed serious body fluid and kill my muscles or if I sit in my home and do a 50 minute yoga video…or if I let my ears here sex jokes and poor taste rock music…what is the difference?
How do I engage the culture (be outside my Christian bubble) and do one or the other? I would rather attend yoga classes than be yelled at or have rock music filling my ears at 6am.
Is one necessarily worse than the other? I don’t think so. So…in matters like this…christian liberty?
Philippians 4:8 and Colossians 3 come to mind. What are your thoughts?

Much and Link Love (November 15 edition)

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

Halfway through November today. Wow, the holidays will be here before we know it and our schedules will be super busy.

1. Busy weekend, but good: Meta 2010, Tedd Tripp Conference (see live blog notes here), great sermon I sat through twice, fall foliage, photog with a friend at the American Tobacco Campus in Durham (love.for.photos.)
2. Ate too much this weekend.
3. Much to do tonight when I get home at 9pm and it doesn’t include watching MNF.
4. The Gators looked HORRIBLE on Saturday night – but thankful, if we had to lose, we lost to Steve.
5. This week: 1.5 lessons to write, hang out times with friends, photog sessions, and hiking with a friend. 4 days off in a row. Love. I never thought I would appreciate vacations – now I do.
6. Cooking this week: roasted chicken tacos, balsamic roast chicken, zucchini, wheat bread, asian chicken and vegetables, and something for dessert which I haven’t decided on yet.

Link Love:
1. This is a great post on theology and photography. Thanks Kerry and Devin for pointing me to it and writing it!
2. Gils Gone Wise has done it again – great post about dating and dating the right person. I’ve been thinking about settling – just to have a date – NOT worth it.
3. I think I will participate in this for the next two months…I have way too many cookbooks I don’t use!
4. Love this post by the Resurgence on great women of the reformation. Great women we can aspire to be (or exam their lives).
5. Love this piece on culture and influence, especially for my friends who are pursuing this regularly…

Short and sweet this week!

Raleigh Event: 29th Annual Greek Fest

posted in: Festivals, food | 0
One thing that I love about living in the triangle is that the nations come here. While most try to blend in to American “Southern” culture, there are some who celebrate their heritage. I love it!
Last night was the first time I have gone to the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church’s Greek Festival. It was a lot of fun.
Met up with some new friends there. Dinner was delicious and a huge portion, so I gave half away. I had the chicken rigonato. Pretty much half a chicken, marinate with olive oil, garlic and oregano. Very juicy. Serve with rice and green beans/tomatoes (so good too). I really wanted a baklava sundae, but didn’t give into that. My friends said it was absolutely delicious.
The dancing was great – especially with the close-up seats we had. Just love getting a glimpse into another culture. Knowing that if I ever get to head to the Greek isles, than I will know something of their culture (besides good food and the color blue). And BTW, that is on my bucket list.
I asked the question if we had an American culture festival (some would say we do at the Fair each year), I wonder what people would see? America is such a melting pot that it would be hard to have a definite culture to promote.