June 2011


So, Jake & I are at a very awkward time in life right now. By “awkward” I mean that in 24 hours we will be moving out of our current living situation (a guest house) and into…nothing. I mean, we will be staying with friends, but that is obviously not long-term in any sense of the phrase. This huge uncertainty makes it really uncomfortable to meet new people, or catch up with people we haven’t seen in a long time. For example, last week I ran into my best friend’s parents – I haven’t seen them in a few years – and they asked where we live, and I said (rather cheerfully, I thought), “Nowhere!” and they were like, “…” Clearly not what they were expecting to hear. A few weeks ago I began mulling over how no one ever stands up in church and shares stories of how God let them down or didn’t provide for them somehow – you only ever hear stories of miraculous provision, just in the nick of time, and I began to wonder if this is because He really has never let anyone down in the whole course of human history, or if it’s just because no one wants to hear those stories. I knew by June 30 I would have some idea of the answer to this conundrum and you know what? It’s not pretty, at least not in a Sunday school flannelboard sort of way.

Last weekend one of my good friends and her family were staying with us and her husband, after hearing our “situation,” said, “Well, isn’t that just great! You know you’ll have an answer soon about where you’re supposed to be!” and after staring at him for a moment I was like, “What? I certainly do not know anything of the sort.” and he was like, “Sure you do. You know God has to answer you by the end of the month” and I stared at him again for a while and then decided to just drop it. That is a nice, pastor-y thing to say in an attempt to make me feel better but this guy has never been in a situation anything like this, and on top of that (and possibly more importantly) I absolutely do NOT know that God has to answer me on any kind of timeline. Maybe we are reading different translations but I cannot find anywhere in my Bible where it says God owes me anything.

And so we are considering doing something which would be either wildly brave or incredibly stupid, and only in hindsight will we be able to see which it was. This is another thing people just don’t talk about. People write books or give talks about how they made these huge life-changes and it turned out great and now they are living their dreams. No one writes the book about “I chased my dreams but things didn’t work out and now I’m living in my mom’s basement again and feel like a total failure.” Plenty of people say the risk is worth it, but only after it pays off. And what if it doesn’t? If the risk is so worth it, where are all the people saying it’s worth it even if you flop?

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Today is a big day – this is my first guest post! When I had the opportunity to review a book on how Jesus is “branded” (represented) by His followers I immediately thought of my husband, Jake, who is very passionate about that topic and also enthusiastic about branding/marketing in general. His thoughts on Branded are far more interesting than mine, so here they are:

When I was asked to read a Christian book called Branded, I thought, “Great, this will be a watered-down, decade late how-to on church marketing.” I put it off several days. I decided to pick it up and started reading between the big things in life. After I began reading I promptly etched out a time to read it. Branded is a quick, easy read. I read it in one day but will be digesting it for weeks to come.

Branded has nothing to do with church marketing. It has everything to do with personally representing Jesus. Sinclair offers no answers in this book. He tells you this from the get-go. Instead, he offers questions. LOTS of questions. Don’t miss the discussion questions in the back of the book. I found them equally challenging/motivating as the chapters themselves.

Sinclair’s ability to tell stories and use of analogies was very refreshing. I felt as though I was sitting at a coffee shop, having a conversation with a friend. He made me laugh. He made me think. He left me speechless. I left ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

Branded is a great read! I have already been recommending this book to people who are frustrated with traditional evangelism. It covers a lot that was swirling in my head but had not taken form.

Mr. Sinclair, if you read this and are ever in the Dallas area, hit me up. I’d like to buy you a cup of coffee (and give $3 to the local homeless shelter).

This book was provided for review by the LitFuse Publicity Group.

I have not purchased swimwear in…oh, a very long time. What I have used as a “swimsuit” the past few years doesn’t even really qualify as an actual swimsuit – a tankini top and running shorts, the sort with built-in sweat-wicking underwear. This combination was certainly not particularly attractive and also rather odd, but hey – it kept pretty much everything covered and was better than facing the dismaying prospect of swimsuit shopping. In fact, it is just easier to choose not to participate in water-related activities than to unearth a swimsuit that: 1. fits, by which I mean “covers parts you don’t care to put on public display” 2. is relatively attractive, by which I mean “doesn’t make you look like a shapeless marshmallow” 3. is affordable, by which I mean “something I can pay for without crying, or selling my firstborn” or at least “costs less than a meal at a really fancy restaurant.”

However, as far as I can tell, most swimsuit designers labor under two false impressions. The first is that women enjoy flaunting areas that are classic “problem” areas for the female form, namely their midsection and thighs. I have met exactly ONE woman in my 29 years of life who is like, “I have good abs” (and she was right) and not a single one who is proud of her thighs so I feel comfortable assuming that MOST women would prefer not to prance around with these things on display. I mean, my abs weren’t exactly admirable prior to bearing a child and let’s just face facts: stretch marks tend to happen when your body, rather suddenly, finds its abdominal cavity accommodating AN ENTIRE EXTRA PERSON. Stretch marks and gooey flabby stuff. I have it on good authority that the gooey flabby stuff pretty much never goes away.

So, a tankini top and either swim shorts or board shorts, or a swim skirt (running skirts are cute; why not for swimming too? I’m already swimming in running clothes anyway) seems like a good solution. Moderate coverage without looking like this:

I COULD be wrong, but I believe that much fabric poses a drowning hazard?

Let’s start with the affordability requirement and peruse some prices online. Land’s End, known for tastefully modest swimsuits made of quality materials: regular retail prices for a tankini start at $48.50 and go up to $69.50. Are you kidding?? Seventy bucks for HALF an outfit?!?!! Ridiculous. Shorts start at $29.50 and go up to $64.50; skirts are between $39.50 and $74.50. So we could, potentially, spend a mere $144 FOR A SWIMSUIT. Apparently this does not seem outrageous to the folks at Land’s End because THEY ARE CHARGING THAT MUCH. Moving on.

Athleta, the activewear branch of the Gap family, has good reviews on their swimwear too. Their tankini tops range from $52 – $74 and swim shorts are $49. So we are looking at a possible $123 there.

In years past, I have simply given up the hunt for a swimsuit because it’s just impossible. Every time I have attempted it the discouragement is overwhelming and I give up. However, I left the ol’ tankini top in France as it no longer fit, and this year I have a little boy who loves water and will also be taking swimming lessons. Since I would like to play with him too, instead of just sticking my feet in the water, I must persevere. Poverty and the statistical improbability of finding a suit I like shall not deter me! Well, not much. I did give up several times but oh-so-lucky for me, Land’s End is having a sale so if I pass over my first choice due to bad reviews, and my second choice due to it being out of stock, I can outfit myself for a mere $69.30.

Back to sizing. My bust measurement calls for one size, my waist for the next size up, and my hips for still the next size up – and this is just for the top. Apparently, aside from the misfortune of being triangle-shaped, I am also doomed to an ill-fitting top. I can get the middle of the 3 sizes I could potentially wear, but nothing says “classy” like a swim top that is loose in the bust. So now I must now face myself in an actual mirror while trying on scores of ill-fitting items, must confront that bane of female existence: shopping for a swimsuit in person.