Category Archives: America

privileges & challenges

Chasing Fireflies: A Midsummer Blogging Update

“I assumed everyone had fireflies,” said my friend. We stood on her porch at dusk watching my son spin and dart around her yard, chasing the tiny, mid-air pulses of light. “But they don’t. People are surprised to see them here.”

tree canopy

tree canopy

Growing up in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, I assumed the same. Fireflies are a given of summer. Since we moved back from the Midwest last month, I realize everyone doesn’t have them. Not the way we do here.

We didn’t have fireflies like this during our 16 years away. Chicagoland drowns them out with stronger, artificial lights. I vaguely remember them flickering in our yard in St. Louis, but that was rare. And their floating courtship didn’t stand a chance against the winds of Wichita.

Here they flourish. Waves of them parade through the night in the deep woods near our little rental house. We walk the trails in daylight and find them dark and hiding in the cool of the forest.

The first week we arrived, we walked those trails like destitute people who’d happened upon a cathedral. The rich green of thick vegetation flooded us. We took shelter under the canopy of tall trees. We breathed it in. An enchanted forest, steps away from our front door.

The dog refused to come into the house that first week. She would go out, but she wouldn’t come back in. The disruption of movers followed by driving across the country with my husband only to be met with movers again didn’t sit well with her. She’s adjusting; I still carry her back into the house some days.



My son and I made the drive incrementally from Wichita to North Carolina alone. We stopped along the way in interesting, important places: Oklahoma City, Little Rock, Memphis, Corinth and Shiloh, Chattanooga. People have asked if I was scared driving all that way by myself with a child. No, I wasn’t scared. I was thankful I could do it.

Once we were moved in, my husband hit the ground running with his consulting work. He’s very busy, and we’re grateful.

My son and I are taking things slower, exploring our way through the summer and adjusting much like the dog. I’ve seen only a  fraction of the many people I want to see. Sixteen years is a long time to make up for being gone. Some things have changed. Others haven’t.

“Do you have a to-go cup I can pour this Coke into?” I asked the man at the counter of the barbecue restaurant. I love North Carolina barbecue. Eaten it twice already since we arrived. It’s comfort food to me. Makes everything better.

“No, we don’t have no to-go cups.” The whites of his eyes flashed up at me from his downturned, brown face.

“Oh,” I said. Just like the city. No margin for courtesies. Then I caught his smile.

“Here you go,” he said, handing me a cup, punctuated with a belly laugh.

“You have quite a poker face,” I said and laughed with him.

“I also work in drug and alcohol law enforcement,” he said. “I need a poker face.”

Later that day, my son and I took to the woods again, this time on our bikes.

forest path

forest path

We zipped through the forest in late afternoon, cutting the humidity like a boat cuts water. Rain from the night before had overflowed the creek banks and shifted the sandy trails. We ducked off the path to maneuver around fallen trees whose soggy roots had given way. Our wheels spewed flecks of gravel as they spun around.

Soaked with sweat and water, we reached the turn to go back to the house.

“Do we have to go in?” said my son.

“We can ride more tomorrow,” I said.

Today is only the beginning.

 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Eccesiastes 3:11 NLT

For King and Country, Middle of Your Heart.

What has your summer held for you?

Like fireflies in a city, my posts have been rare this summer. Thank you for your readership and your patience as my family makes this major relocation.

Martha Stewart, image credit David Shankbone

Martha Stewart, image credit David Shankbone

My work as a Project Underblog contributor continues. In June, Martha, May I? was published, and in July, A Clinique Conspiracy Theory was published. A third post is on tap for August. I invite you to click on the titles to read these stories. If you blog, consider stepping out and submitting a story to Project Underblog for publication. They are a supportive, safe community of writers~#smallandmighty!

I plan to attend the BlogHer conference in Chicago next week. It promises to be a fun time with my blogger sisters. If you’re there, please contact me @AimeeWhetstine on Twitter so we can connect IRL.

You may remember Listening to the Women of Monsanto was published this past May as a BlogHer Original Post. It was a well-read story for me. What’s next? That’s the question I’ll ponder at the conference and beyond. I must remind myself, as do we all, today is only the beginning.

photo credit: david_shankbone via photopin cc


Filed under America, blogging, family & friends, life, writing & reading

Beyond Holy Week

While I was on my spring blogging break, I checked the feed during Holy Week to discover the internet was in shambles.  

window bride

window bride

Lines were drawn in the sands across America. The days leading up to Easter saw pundits throw off their gloves to strangle each other in hand-to-hand combat. Facebook profiles hemorrhaged red equal signs matched by a flow of crosses. Twitter burned with the carnage of our civil discourse about gay marriage.

People ridiculed the Bible and took cheap shots at my faith. Folks in some religious circles seemed to suggest Christians just sit this one out. Political strategists advocated surrender, declaring the issue a lost cause in a zero-sum game. Do we want to be right or win elections? 

Scant little was said about how we might address the actual issue: Can we as a nation find a way to extend legal protections to long-term, monogamous gay couples while at the same time protect the religious liberty of those whose faith prohibits homosexuality? I could have missed it, but I haven’t heard much from either side about an equal-but-different, civil-union-type solution.

Maybe we don’t want a solution as much as we want a fight and a Supreme Court verdict like Roe v. Wade. Forty years later, we all know how well that settled the abortion debate.

My sweet father-in-law served two terms as a county commissioner. During his first campaign in 2000, we discussed Roe v. Wade. He expressed to me the frustration of pro-life Christians who felt blindsided by the 1973 Supreme Court ruling. “It happened,” he said, “and we did nothing.”

I naively thought this marked his generation’s legacy with silence and inaction. After Holy Week this year, I think I understand a little more of how he feels.

Proponents of gay marriage think they’re right and that this is a question of equality. If you express a different opinion, you’re labeled a bigot. On the other hand, many Christians think gay marriage is a threat to First Amendment freedoms and that this as a question of religious liberty. If our federal government “redefines” marriage to legally include both heterosexual and homosexual relationships, where does that leave the church? Where does that leave religious schools and institutions?

Will there be exceptions? Or will the state cross the line and require all churches to perform same-sex marriages, hire homosexual staff, and censor the first chapter of Romans or face prosecution for discrimination and hate crimes? Think it could never happen? Private sector examples like Hobby Lobby, Sweet Cakes Bakery, and Arlene’s Flowers show how eagerly religious liberty is being challenged. Is this too a zero-sum game?

The tidal wave of little equal signs and crosses on Facebook and the tumult of mainstream media bias during Holy Week chilled the dialogue of regular citizens. This debate has instilled fear in people to voice their convictions.

But bullying the opposition into silence isn’t progress.

rick warren quote

image from Pure Purpose on Facebook

Some of us are straight. Some of us are gay. All of us defy GodWe’re all guilty; that’s why we’re all in need of Christ. No one is in a position to condemn. But what does it say about my faith if I’m scared silent to speak what I believe?

EstherShadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and Daniel are in the Bible for a reason. So is the account of Jesus before Pilate. There is Truth that stands alone and isn’t relative to our whims, preferences, culture, courts, or circumstances. 

flag in Reagan National

flag in Reagan National

I disagree with the idea that engaging in the political process and conversation means you’ve traded faith in Christ for faith in government. God has blessed American believers the gifts of freedom of speech and religion, among the many other gifts of our Constitution. We are called to be good stewards of those gifts as much as we are called to be good stewards of all the resources God has given us. Use it or lose it.

No one enjoys being the object of ridicule, spite, and retaliation. We hope bullying doesn’t happen and we answer it with grace as best we can when it does. Christ promised that people would hate Christians the same way they hated Him. In all this, God is sovereign; His plans will be accomplished.

Americans may never unanimously agree on social issues like gay marriage and abortion. But I hold out hope we can find ways to live alongside each other in peace, with respect for our different beliefs, and under the protection of our Constitution. 

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” retorted Pilate. John 18:36-38 NIV

How are you processing the events of Holy Week?


Filed under America, faith

When We Have No Words

We turn to the One whose words never fail.

Psalm 91:1-2

Please click to read the full text of Psalm 91.


Filed under America, faith

Bullfighting on Twitter

This past Monday, I’d had it with Twitter. Rather than give up, I took the bull by the horns. Because that’s what we do here.

I deactivated my Twitter account @everydayepistle. Please follow me now @AimeeWhetstine if you like. 

matador, as seen in the Plaza, Kansas City

matador, as seen in the Plaza, Kansas City

Inquiring minds want to know. Why this change? Why now? Here’s the skinny:

1. Forgive me for being undiplomatic, but I hate Twitter.
Maybe I just don’t get it. People have explained Twitter to me as a cocktail party where you can chat with absolutely anyone. How cool is that?!

Eh. There’s something to be said for hanging out at a barbecue with people I already know. Dear Mr. Zuckerberg’s endless string of arbitrary changes is tiresome, but Facebook is more my speed. There’s context to Facebook—mutual friends, profiles, photos, a virtual paper trail of posts, comments, likes. Yes, some people present falsely, but only the hopelessly diabolical can keep up a Facebook farce for long. True colors shine through.

Meanwhile, Twitter is context-free. Commitment-free. A breeding ground for trolls and propaganda. It’s easy to hide behind 140 characters. Olé!

Unless you have a gazillion tweeting friends or followers, Twitter is also like an echo chamber. It’s you, standing alone in the arena, waiting for the bull to rush you. Your tweets disappear into the chaos of the crowd. Who knows where they’ve gone or who’ll read them? Who knows if anyone will read them at all or if you’ve just wasted two precious minutes of your life distilling a profound thought into an acceptable tweet. There isn’t enough time in the day, folks.

And yet, if I want to write, if I want to participate in social media, if I want to connect with people in the 21st century, Twitter is a necessary evil.

2. If I write it, my byline needs to be on it.
Ross Douthat has more than 21,000 followers on Twitter and follows 110. Peggy Noonan has nearly 75,000 followers and follows 85. Beth Moore has more than 300,000 followers and follows 50. Seth Godin has more than 260,000 followers and follows no one.

These are a few of my favorite writers. They don’t follow. They tweet and leave the following to others. They invest their time doing what they’re obviously good at and what I suspect they enjoy most. Notice it’s not Twitter.

They tweet with their own names—except for Seth who uses @ThisIsSethsBlog. It’s rather spiffy to use a cool Twitter handle, brand name, or blog title. It’s just that for me, for now, I want ownership and accountability. I’m no Peggy or Beth, but I want you to know who’s speaking and who you’re speaking to.

3. It’s time to clean house. 
The terrorist attack in Boston was less than two hours old this past Monday afternoon when a writer I was following tweeted something beyond irresponsible. I’ve told you here before that if you so much as breathe the wrong way on my child, Momma Bear will make an appearance. Well, kicking my country when it’s down isn’t a good idea either.

Liberal news outlets have carelessly, callously promoted inappropriate ideas since the bombing, but this writer was first to do it on my feed. I’d mistaken her for someone she isn’t. I’d been gored.

I've heard Spain is nice. Photo credit: Contando Estrelas

I’ve heard Spain is nice. Photo credit: Contando Estrelas

And you know what? It’s my bad. I’d assumed without knowing. I’d trusted without verifying. Her response to my calling her on the insensitive tweet showed she clearly couldn’t care less who I am or what I think or even how her tweet insulted citizens who still love America and emboldened those who hate us. (By the way, if you live in America and hate America, please consider moving. Abroad. Think of how much happier we’d all you’d be.)

That was the last straw. Within 24 hours, I’d closed my old Twitter account and started over, determined to make a fresh start. Ah, catharsis.

Between you, me, and the fencepost, I’d like to continue writing about things that are important to me, but life isn’t a popularity contest and Twitter doesn’t have to be a blood sport. Read and follow if you like. Block me if you don’t. I’ve got work to do. As myself. As Aimee Whetstine.

God bless America.

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV

Pasodobles Españoles by Pepe El Trumpeta.

I cannot be the only person out there with Twitter malaise. Can you relate? Or if you love Twitter, won’t you kindly share a tip or two?

photo credit: Contando Estrelas via photopin cc


Filed under America, blogging

BlogHer Runs Women and Guns Story

Photo credit Marie Bowers2

click to read ‘How Gun Ownership Empowers Women’

Women and guns. Guns and women.

Will she ever stop writing about this? 

Yes, I have other things to say. Come back tomorrow.

Today I need a favor.

BlogHer published a new story I wrote. No matter what side you’re on, please go, read, comment, share. Our country deserves to hear many voices in the debate about Second Amendment rights. Post haste. Go now.

How Gun Ownership Empowers Women

I can lose my hard earned freedom if my fear defines my world.
One Girl Revolution
 by Superchick!


Filed under America, women's studies

Women and Guns Photo Essay

photo credit: Windy Borders

photo credit: Windy Borders,

My research to write about women and guns has connected me with many thoughtful, intelligent, brave women gun owners and enthusiasts. It’s been an honor to hear their stories.

They’re a beautiful bunch.

Take a look at a dozen of the photos they sent me. They communicate a simple, yet profound message: the entire United States Constitution applies to all American citizens, male and female.

United States Constitution. Bill of Rights.

photo credit: Elisabeth Sitton

photo credit: Elisabeth Sitton

Second Amendment. Bearing Arms:

photo credit: Theresa Wegner

photo credit: Theresa Wegner


photo credit:

photo credit:


photo credit: Charla Balogh

photo credit: Charla Balogh


photo credit: Christel Oliphant

photo credit: Christel Oliphant


photo credit: Val Wagner

photo credit: Val Wagner


photo credit: Jesse Bussard

photo credit: Jesse Bussard


photo credit: Marie Bowers

photo credit: Marie Bowers


photo credit Neena,

photo credit: Neena,


Tiff with Gun

photo credit: Tiffany Nevil


photo credit: Sallie Molina

photo credit: Sallie Molina


Now hear this: One Woman Army by Kate Earl. A brilliant, new favorite. There’s a sweet twist at the end of the video, so watch the whole thing.


Chicks with Guns by Lindsay McCrum

If you liked this post, you’ll love Lindsay McCrum’s stunning book of photography, Chicks with Guns. Real women with the real guns they own.

You’ll also love The Debutante Hunters, a documentary short by Maria White. The film, featuring Lowcountry women who hunt, won the Audience Award in the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The Debutante Hunters will be released on iTunes this spring.

Disclosure: I am not being compensated to promote Chicks with Guns, The Debutante Hunters, or the U.S. Constitution. 

If you’re a woman who owns a gun and would like to share your story, please email aimee (at) everyday epistle (dot) com.


Filed under America, women's studies

Speak Out

This past weekend, I read an article in The New York Times that crushed me: The Holocaust Just Got More Shocking

That story, coupled with Modern American Poetry’s photo essay of the Holocaust, reminded me of a quote from Martin Niemöller, a Protestant pastor who spoke out against the Nazis and spent seven years in concentration camps.


How could so many people know what was happening right under their noses and not speak out? What do you know about that’s happening right under your nose?

Will you speak out?

Speak out for those who cannot speak… from Proverbs 31:8 NRSV


Filed under America, words to remember

Women Gun Owners Shoot Straight

Today my first story about American women gun owners was published on The Broad Side, an online women’s opinion magazine.

Photo credit Charla Balogh

click for Women Gun Owners Shoot Straight About Firearms, Violence, Second Amendment, photo credit: Charla Balogh

I’m grateful to the women gun owners and others who generously shared their personal stories for this post. Their impassioned narratives inspire me.

You know that Titanic feeling you get the moment you realize you may have hit the tip of an iceberg?

I’m astounded that my informal request to hear from women who own guns is still yielding heartfelt responses. It’s as if women gun owners haven’t been asked to comment on our country’s current gun debate. Or, if they have been asked, their perspectives have largely been ignored.

I don’t own a gun, but the research I’ve done so far about gun rights gives me pause. What if I want or need a gun in the future and can’t get one because the government says so?

What if, by not exercising my Second Amendment right to bear arms, I inadvertently jeopardize that right for my fellow citizens like the law-abiding women in my article, not to mention for myself, my son, and generations of Americans yet to come?

Our Founding Fathers (and Mothers) must be rolling over in their graves right about now.

Photo credit Marie Bowers

photo credit Marie Bowers

My head is spinning with story ideas to follow (including plans for a photo essay of all the wonderful pictures the women gun owners sent me). But for today, I ask you to click over to The Broad Side to read Women Gun Owners Shoot Straight About Firearms, Violence, Second Amendment. Whether you are pro-guns or pro-gun control, I’d appreciate your thoughtful and respectful comments, and I’d covet your shares of the post.

The Broad Side admittedly skews left. Publishing an article like this is a big step for them, and I admire their courage to do so. I hope you’ll join me in demonstrating how listening to different perspectives on controversial topics is one of the best ways to ensure the health of our republic.

Please read:

Women Gun Owners Shoot Straight About Firearms, Violence, Second Amendment


Filed under America, women's studies

Guest Post: Musing Momma Says Parenting Isn’t Black and White

When Aimee invited me to share a post about my family, I struggled with what I wanted to say. Any family is more than one story.

Musing MommaWe are each a million stories. Which one do I tell? Even narrowing it down to writing about my experience being in a multiracial family and what that has meant for me leaves so many possibilities to choose from. This is just one part of our experience.

I am a white woman married to a black man and the mother of two biracial children (two beautiful, amazing, radiant children, if I may say so). Being so intimately connected to two different cultures through my family and sorting through what that means for us is a blessing. It challenges me to look more deeply at my own attitudes. It pushes me to try my best to figure out what race means and what it doesn’t. And because of the implications for my children, I’m attuned to subtleties of racism that I may have remained oblivious to otherwise.

By virtue of my family, race has moved from a somewhat intellectual issue to a very personal and emotional one. I can’t speak for other mixed race families, but I have talked to many other white mommas of brown children and I believe that my experience—the eye-opening transition and becoming more sensitized to all the ways that racism manifests—is one that many of them share.

photo credit: Musing Momma

Over the past decade, I’ve wrestled with the knowledge that what others think and believe about me and about my family may be based more on skin color than on fact or fairness. People passing by may not think to themselves, “There’s a couple with graduate degrees and good jobs, who have been together for a rock-solid 14 years. Look at those sweet boys they’re working so hard to raise right.” Filtered through stereotypes and preconceived notions, their judgments may be, well, less flattering.

As someone who has always cared a little too much what others think and taken pride in her smart-girl, good-girl image, the idea of someone thinking poorly of me or my family was something I struggled with and sometimes still do. (Feel free to read more about that here.) But that struggle has pushed me to really think about how we all deserve to be treated with the utmost compassion and respect as we move through life, regardless of our back stories. It’s easy to pay lip service to that belief, but it’s another thing entirely to fully grasp and practice it.

photo credit: Musing Momma

photo credit: Musing Momma

In the four walls of our home, we don’t think much about race. We think about what we’re having for dinner and whether our kindergartener has done his homework. We wonder if we’re being too strict and then we wonder if we’re being too lenient. We snuggle up and read stories at bedtime. We give baths and we say “I love you” and we play trains on the living room floor. In short, we do what families do.

But there are concerns I have that, if my kids were white, wouldn’t even be on my radar screen.  There are things I do because I am always trying to make sure my boys have a strong, healthy sense of self, one that will fortify them against the racism they will inevitably experience.

I make sure they feel positive about being black and about their appearance as black children—their curly hair, their brown skin. Somewhere along the way society will tell them these features are less than desirable, and I want them to know that is a lie.  If you’ve ever gone to your local store to look for a black action figure for your child, you know that they’re not easy to find. I worry about what message this sends my children. With limited success, I look for children’s television shows and movies with African-American boys in lead roles because I know that “you can’t be what you can’t see.”

photo credit: Lubs Mary

photo credit: Lubs Mary

I worry about the impact of stereotypes they’ll be exposed to once they move beyond children’s programming. Research shows that media does affect how African-American children feel about themselves. I point out positive black role models everywhere I can—their father, the President, in a story on the news—hoping those examples prove to be a more powerful influence than limiting stereotypes.

I go out of my way to make sure my children’s teachers know that my husband and I are involved and invested in their education, because I worry that if the teachers don’t know us, they’ll expect less of my children than they do of their white peers. It’s a reasonable fear, because research has shown that teachers often expect less of black students, even if they don’t realize it.

I dread the day that my children are insulted or rejected on account of race because I know that they are loving, curious, imaginative, and downright amazing souls and the idea that anyone would not see that based simply on the color of their skin just breaks my heart. And I dread the day that another parent doesn’t want their child to date mine. And, chances are, that day will come. We’ve come a long way with the rise in interracial relationships in this country, but we still have a long way to go, especially with respect to feelings about black-white marriage. (Check out this 2012 Pew Research article summarizing U.S. Census statistics and attitudes toward interracial marriage.)

When I hear about someone not wanting their child to date a black person or be friends with a black classmate, I just want to grab them by the shoulders, look them in the eye and say, “What do you mean? Are you telling me that this boy I have loved and nurtured, just as you have loved and nurtured your child, is somehow not good enough? That my beautiful child is less than your beautiful child?” I wonder what they would say. Imagine someone telling you that your child is not good enough for theirs, not because of anything he or she has done, but simply because of the color of their skin.

photo credit: Werth Media

photo credit: Werth Media

I worry about racial profiling and how it will affect my boys. I consider that if my little one continues to be off-the-charts in height, he won’t just grow up to be a black man but he’ll grow up to be a big black man—and it scares me what that could mean for his safety as he moves out into the world. The death of Trayvon Martin shook me to my core, as it did so many parents of black children, because I realized that could be my child someday. I worry about what happens when they must step out of this bubble we’ve built around them and into the real world.

These are things I probably wouldn’t worry about if my children were white. This is how I know race still matters and in unfair ways. We have come a long way, but we still have a long ways to go before racial and cultural differences are pervasively seen as something to be celebrated and appreciated, rather than the basis for division and discrimination.

The beauty of raising young children is that they are a living example that race is a social construct, not a biological truth. I see how accepting my children are of people from different backgrounds, because no one has taught them otherwise and because my husband and I are doing all we can to ensure they hold onto that belief. They notice skin color, but without judgment or assumption.

Ellie of Musing Momma

Ellie of Musing Momma

We can’t change problems if we don’t recognize them. My family experience has pushed me to examine my own biases and being more aware means I can make more conscious choices over what I believe and what I feel.

If things are going to change, we have to open our hearts and be willing to learn. We need to seek out different perspectives and really try to understand the impact of our history on the present. For those of us who are white, we must be willing to examine our own biases and acknowledge where our skin color has afforded us privileges we may not deserve, and we have to be willing to do something about it.

Read more at Musing Momma about Ellie’s experiences from how her interracial relationship has shaped her identity to debating whether to change school districts to conversations with her sons about race. She also features other multiracial families who are gracious enough to share their experiences. Ellie highly recommend the online magazine Multicultural Familia and their list of favorite sites on race and culture as good places to learn more.

Thank you, Ellie, for sharing your story here!

photo credit: Lubs Mary. via photopin cc
photo credit: werthmedia via photopin cc


Filed under America, family & friends, women's studies


February is African-American history month. 

Somewhere in America, 1934, oil on canvas by Robert Brackman

Somewhere in America, 1934, oil on canvas by Robert Brackman

I’m not African-American. There are many things I don’t understand about how racism is experienced. While I would very much like us to get past race and just treat everyone as human beings, the atrocities the African-American and other communities have experienced leave deep wounds. Will they ever heal? How can all of us help?

In an effort to open a dialogue and help bring some understanding to this topic for everyone, myself included, I’ve reached out to a few friends to share their stories this year. The first is the kind and lovely “psychologist-turned-momma in a multiracial family” Ellie of Musing Momma. You’ll read her guest post here tomorrow. 

If you’ve been around this blog awhile, you know I like to link to songs at the end of some of the posts. One time I was looking for a link to Arrested Development’s song People Everyday. Seemed a good way to explain my use of “everyday” versus “every day” in the blog title. It’s a grammar thing.

I’m a fan of Arrested Development, but somehow I’d missed many of their videos. That day was the first time I saw Tennessee. I watched it with my son, then had to try to explain it to him, a child.

I knew the song had something to do with injustices against African-Americans. What I didn’t get until I watched the video (and may never fully get) is the legacy and fallout of those injustices. When the woman at the end mournfully sings, her grief calls out loud and clear: “Won’t you help me understand your plan? Take me home! Take me to another place!

Grief. Same as any family might experience for generations after trauma. Manifested, demonstrated differently by individuals. Anger, sadness, despair, silence, denial, resolve, survival. 

somewhere in America

somewhere in America, photo credit: Creativity + Timothy K Hamilton

My assessment may be completely wrong. As I said at the beginning of this post, I’m not African-American. I don’t understand it all, but I want to understand it better. Watching that video, watching how we wrestle with issues of race in our country year after year, I am grieved.

Why are many of our communities still segregated, not by law but by choice? Why, oh why, are our Christian churches segregated? A difference in worship styles or language is one thing. But a congregation of all black, all white, all Asian, or all whatever doesn’t reflect the true make up of The Church.

So we’re going to broach this subject. Here. Together. Respectfully. If not us, then who? If not now, then when?

He was given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey Him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed. Daniel 7:14 NLT

Tennessee by Arrested Development.

Please join us tomorrow for Ellie’s guest post.

photo credit: cliff1066™ via photopin cc
photo credit: Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton via photopin cc


Filed under America

Necessary Violence?

I’m finally reading The Hunger Games. Only five years and one movie late. No spoilers, please. Oh, and I’m tweeting my favorite lines as I discover them, probably to the chagrin of the handful of people who follow me on Twitter.

mockingjay pin

mockingjay pin

I’ve read through Part I: The Tributes. It was tragic, but not really violent. The violence is yet to come. Ever since I wrote Jeremy Spoke last month, I’ve been thinking and rethinking how violence in our culture influences our behavior. While I don’t retract, “Garbage in, garbage out,” I’m struggling with this in light of our stories.

There is no great, compelling story without conflict and crisis. That conflict is most dramatically manifested in violence. 

Lord of the Flies is violent. So is The Lord of the Rings. The Chronicles of Narnia. Les Misérables. Star Wars. The Godfather. The Matrix. Gone With the Wind. The Gospels. And so on.

Is some violence necessary in our stories? What makes it gratuitous? Should we shield our children? What flips the switch to unleash violent behavior in some people, but not others?

A few years ago I took a film analysis class at church. Yes, church. There’s no better place to consider human culture than within the context of God’s redemptive work for us through the death and resurrection of Christ.

We critiqued the messaging of movies. We examined what a film’s story and cinematography say about God, humans, our society, our destiny. We wrestled with themes Christians might shy away from: violence, nudity, profanity. We found our thresholds to be individual and subjective.

I think the point of a class like that, and a post like this, isn’t necessarily answers. Rather it’s to get us to pay attention.

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games

We all break God’s law. There is none righteous. No, not one. Left to its natural course, our law-breaking gets worse, not better. We’re capable of horrific behavior. God abhors those who love violence. The One Hope for our depravity is a core change from death to life.

Maybe the message of Heathers was satirical and Pearl Jam’s Jeremy was a warning. Maybe the conflict, crisis, and violence of our stories, fiction and nonfiction, serve to spur us on to the Redeemer.

Bring to an end the violence of the wicked
and make the righteous secure—
You, the righteous God
Who probes minds and hearts. Psalm 7:9 NIV

The Hunger Games movie site where you can watch the official trailer.

Is some violence necessary in our stories? Where’s your threshold for viewing or reading it? How does violence in our culture influence behavior?

photo credit: damnyeahnich via photopin cc
photo credit: cinderellasg via photopin cc


Filed under America, faith

Dresses and Dreams

Ladies, as a little girl did you ever dream of your wedding dress? 

Beane & Co Clara from Nice and Neutral Collection

Beane & Company Clara

My dream wedding dress was updated with every trend. I wanted a fur collar. Make that a 25-foot train like Princess Diana’s. Maybe fingerless lace gloves. White granny boots. A tiara.

My actual wedding was 17 years ago, and I find myself in an odd place now. As a MOB (mother of boy), it’s unlikely I’ll have a say in wedding dresses, much less fingerless lace gloves. There will be no trips with the bride to say yes to the dress, just a tinge of pain knowing I’ll never get to plan, er, help plan a wedding again.

Enter Pinterest. I’m like a sweet tooth set loose in a candy store with no money to buy the goods. So I started a board called “My Imaginary Pinterest Wedding Even Though I’m Already Married.” It eases my craving the same way my “Short Cuts” board consoles the occasional impulse for a pixie haircut.

It may look odd (the board, not the haircut). When a friend saw me pinning wedding dresses, she quipped, “Are you renewing your vows or something?”

Beane & Co Zelda and Leo Gatsby Collection

Beane & Company Zelda and Leo

Laugh all you want, sister. Your beautiful daughter practically guarantees you a subscription to Brides.

Instead of assembling wedding accoutrements on Pinterest where friends question your sanity, what if you could make them your business? What if you could design bridal regalia to your heart’s desire and your clients’ satisfaction?

My friend Jenna Lang does exactly that. Beane & Company, her Los Angeles studio, has created custom special occasion clothing for children since 2007.

Imagine the most darling flower girls and ring bearers EVER.

Beane & Co Grace from Gatsby Collection

Beane & Company Grace

“What makes us unique is that everything you purchase is made to order. Nothing is massed produced,” says Jenna.

“Our niche is that we can customize anything you see pictured in any color or fabric. It generally starts with an inquiry that goes something like this: ‘I love this dress. Can we do it in pink instead of white?’ Our answer is always ‘Yes!'”

Jenna credits her mother, a seamstress, with inspiring her appreciation for custom clothing. Jenna was a professional dancer and worked for many years designing theatre costumes. Her passion for design blossomed into a business with the births of her own children.

“I wanted my daughter to have a chest of beautiful keepsake clothing just like my mother had for me. The dresses I made began to pile up—way too many clothes for her to wear! So my business began as a natural progression of my love for all things theatrical married to my love for vintage children’s clothing. My daughter, and now my son, are still the inspiration for everything I do.”

Beane & Co Charlie from Gatsby Collection

Beane & Company Charlie

Custom is key in the wedding industry. “A bride can send us a swatch of the colors she’s using in her wedding and we can match it to make something that fits perfectly,” says Jenna. “The best part is there are no add-ons or upcharge for color or design changes. The price listed is the price you pay, regardless of the changes made.”

Beane & Co Ella from Something Blue Collection

Beane & Company Ella

What does Jenna love most about her work? “The thing I love most about what I do is the creative process,” she says. “There’s nothing like seeing a piece of fabric or a sketch on paper and making it come to life. I’m always amazed at what and where I find things that spark an idea. If you can imagine it, or you want us to imagine it—we can make it!” 

I like her passion. It’s what dresses and dreams are made of. 

Some of Beane & Company’s enchanting designs are featured in this post with photography by Katie Duda of Claire Alyse Photography. See more at Beane & Company, on Facebook, on Twitter @beaneandcompany, or contact Jenna (at) BeaneandCo (dot) com.

Beane & Co Lizzy from Something Beane

Beane & Company Lizzy

You have captured my heart,
my treasure, my bride.
You hold it hostage with one glance of your eyes,
with a single jewel of your necklace. Song of Solomon 4:9 NLT

Marry Me by Train.

Happy Valentine’s Day!
So what’s your imaginary wedding dress look like?

Disclosure: I’m not being compensated to promote Beane & Company or Claire Alyse Photography in this post. 


Filed under America, family & friends, women's studies