What is wrong with this picture?enhanced-6798-1394548095-1

It’s been floating all over the internet the last couple of days.  It doesn’t take a Where’s Waldo expert to notice that something has gone horribly awry in the process of photoshopping the model to make her more…er…”appealing.”

I wasn’t sure exactly what Target was going for with this photo hack job at first.

Are girls supposed to be aspiring to have no crotch?  Because that is a standard no one can reach.

Are they supposed to be emulating Stretch Armstrong?  Because I’m not sure if we are looking at a young lady or a shaved orangutan.  I’m almost as gangly as guys get, with my measurements being 15.5 / 34-35 (yes, you can applaud my bravery for posting my real measurements), and I can tell you that there’s no way that girl is ever going to find sleeves long enough.

It turns out that the object of the ad was to give the girl a “thigh gap” a term that heretofore I was not aware even existed.  Trust me ladies, no gentleman suitor is going to be using his measuring tape on the space between your thighs to determine if you are an acceptable mate.

So it turns out that despite all we talk about positive self-image, there is still a lot that needs to be done to help ladies (and gentlemen) accept themselves.  And I think there is an especially large amount the church can do.

Because I happen to think that this problem (and a myriad of others) stem from how the church of past dropped the ball when it comes to our bodies.

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A week ago, I was stuck at home.  An early March snow day, which happened to also be my birthday.

Yesterday, I enjoyed a sunny afternoon with my dogs, walking around the neighborhood.

Along the way, we saw seemingly every dog in the neighborhood going for a walk.

Children were trying out the bikes they got for Christmas in the school parking lot.

Girls practiced their softball pitches and boys knocked the rust off their batting arms.

Seasons are an amazing thing.  Living in Missouri, my wife and I find the seasons to be one of the attractions of living here.  We get all the seasons, in proportion.

The thing with me is that I have let too many seasons pass me by.  A season comes, and I am glad to see it, but I fail to seize it.  Or another season comes, and I hunker down and stay under a blanket for a few months, convinced that this season won’t be very eventful.

But the reality is that every season, whether in nature or in life, has its purpose.  Whether the season is sunny or cloudy, warm or cold, God has designed all of them for something.  I have spent great seasons of my life just waiting for the next season, failing to see the potential of this season, this day, this hour.

God designs all seasons, even the painful, bitter, cold ones in order that we might be fruitful.  We are not held back by our circumstances.  We are held back only by our own willingness to grow no matter what the “weather” is.

I took this photo last December, just as the last signs of life were disappearing from the trees.  But the trees have not wasted these last few months.  And now, they are ready to spring forth again.

seasons

Today, I resolve to stop waiting for what’s next.  I make a resolution to stop promising that tomorrow I will do something great, when my circumstances are more favorable.

I promise to use this season for all it is worth.

Happy Friday, friends.

I don’t know about you, but I have had a completely crammed week, and this weekend is looking no different.  I’ll be a keynote speaker at my school’s celebration of the arts and I’m officiating a wedding.  So, yeah.

But somehow, in between preparation for all of that, I found lots of good stuff to refresh my mind.  Here’s a bit of the best.

One More Thing31S+5W5ft7L._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_

I am a sucker for short stories.  In fact, teaching high schoolers about short fiction is one of my favorite weekly classes.  So I was pretty excited to get my hands on a new compilation of stories from BJ Novak (Ryan from The Office). The first story opens up by imagining that the hare who lost the race finally rematches against the tortoise.  If you don’t mind a little language, it’s a funny, dryly humored fable and I can’t wait to dig further into One More Thing.

The Journey Ends

For the second time in a month, I’m mourning the loss of a blog in my reader.  I’ve been a longtime fan of Wes Molebash and his work on Insert Image.  I’m sad to see the webcomic go, but I’m sure whatever he does next will be superb.

Feeling Stretched

On my blog reader, there was lots of good stuff.  My buddy, Jeremy Statton had a trip to the hospital this week (which isn’t good), but we all know that quite often experiencing discomfort and being stretched leads to living better stories.

Buying Success

We all know this happens, but it is extremely disheartening as an author to see more evidence that if you have enough tithe money sitting in your church’s bank account, you can apparently buy a spot on the bestseller lists.

Lord, Let Him Be Funny

But on the lighter side, and by far the most entertaining thing on the internet this week was the family feuding happening between Jamie the Very Worst Missionary and her teenage son.  Seriously, if I ever have kids, I hope my family turns out like this.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, everyone.  Those are a few things that fueled me through my week.  What about you?

As bloggers, we make a hobby of telling people what we think.56 WH

It’s really a natural extension of my everyday life, I suppose. In school, we learned how to think about math or biology. In college, I learned how to think about design. In seminary, I learned how to think about the Bible.

And now I spend my days teaching my own students how to think. And you probably tell your own children what you think of their behavior or their grades or the mess they’ve made at least once a day. And if we run into a rude cashier at the store or an incompetent driver, we will probably tell them what we think of them, through words or gestures.

Yes, we believe that it is what we think that gives us identity. It is what we believe that gives us unity. It is a very “Descartes-ian” idea, that we think, and therefore we are.

Is it not funny that I had to go all the way to Africa to meet some other Americans who would prove to me that everything I have thought about thinking would be entirely wrong?

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Last night, I enjoyed watching the Academy Awards…

Well, I enjoyed watching some of the ceremony.  Ellen was the best.  Matthew McConaughey’s speech was phenomenal. Plenty of deserving people were recognized.

Awards are enjoyable because in their purest form, we are celebrating excellence. We applaud people who are the best or have created the best.

But…

We also know that awards do not live up to their ideals.  We know that they are political.  We know that they are not pure.  We know that sometimes they are unjust.  The best do not win.  People who should lose walk away with the trophy.  Some people get awards because people think they should get the award, not because they deserve the award.

We know all of this.  But still, it is hard to not watch the Academy Awards and wish just a little that a great crowd of people was applauding us.  Just once, you know.  It would be nice if people thought we were the best (even if we aren’t.)  It would be nice if they gave us an award (even if we don’t really deserve it.)  But most of us won’t ever get the recognition we crave.  Whatever recognition we get won’t really satisfy us if we are pursuing recognition.

And so it is on this day-after-the-Oscars that I am reminded of a man who was decidedly outside the establishment, who shunned applause and recognition, who understood the intoxicating corruption that accolades, awards and applause can create.  He understood that people are often enchanted by things that are not really beautiful, timeless or true.  And therefore, living in pursuit of applause is a lousy way to live.

applause

What if we went about our work today, free from worry that people will not recognize our efforts?  What if we were equally happy for the success and the applause that others receive?  What if we took satisfaction in our work, not because of what others think of it, but because it is what we were born to do?  That would be an amazing thing.

What happened, blog land?

You know, some weeks, things are quiet, and other weeks, there seems to be this subtle shift, this heat that is slowly rising beneath the surface.  I think it was a combination of events in Arizona, as well as the End It campaign.  But there was definitely some energy here this week in my blog reader.  I could feel it.

It’s also funny to me how some weeks, all my bookmarked blogs are written by men, and other weeks, it’s mostly ladies.  Today, it happens to be all ladies.  I didn’t try to make that happen.  It’s just coincidence.  So all of these ladies should be commended for powerful writing.

So You Want to End It?

It is an extremely noble cause, wanting to end human trafficking and sex slavery.  But we live in a time when we can “participate” in virtually every noble cause.  And I for one will admit that my “participation” often does not go deeper than being a fashion accessory or a Facebook post.  Lore Ferguson probably wrote the most important words I read this week about what it’s going to take to truly end sex trafficking. (Hint: a  majority of people, even Christians are participating in something that perpetuates the slave trade.)

The R-Rated, Unedited Gospel

We live in a country that is saturated with the gospel…or some form of it.  But we have a very edited, sanitized, censored version of the gospel, really.  It has been taught to us since Sunday School, cleaned up to be “family friendly.”  I completely agree with Emily Wierenga, that perhaps the truest Christians I have met are living in a continent that is starving to death.

A Dirty Little Gospel

Yes, somehow a theme developed in my blog reading this week.  After reading Emily’s words, I came across Hannah Brencher’s.  For all the ways we have sanitized the gospel to be pleasing to religious people, we have often poisoned the gospel to keep outsiders out.

When Our Christian Faith is Questioned

Finally, came these words, on the insult of having our own convictions questioned, of not being considered “Christian” enough by those who take it upon themselves to know best.  How often have we branded each other “heretic” because its easier than showing grace?  Kathy Escobar talks about having her own faith questioned.

And If You Need To Cry Just a Little Bit

I never thought I would say this, but the best thing I saw this week was Jimmy Kimmel.  If you haven’t seen this video, watch all the way to the end, because you can hear the tears coming in his voice, and you’ll probably be crying a little bit too.


For the few great words I named, there were thousands more that I do not have space to share.  But these are a few words that fueled me this week.  What about you?