Monday, October 31, 2016

I'm Guest Posting for Jen Michele this week!

Hi there! This week I'm guest posting over at Jen Michele's blog. If you haven't yet read Jen's book, Teach Us to Want, you really need to get it, read it, and soak it in. It was selected as the Christianity Today Book of the Year for 2015--need I say more?

Jen has a new book coming out next spring titled, Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning of Home. I'm honored to be sharing some thoughts on home with Jen's readers this week. Here's the beginning of my post, but click here to read the whole thing.

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2355 N. Higgins Road, Morris, IL
Tiny pink tulips arranged in rows, wound through with green ribbon. Repeat. And repeat. And repeat.
This was the pattern of the wallpaper in my bedroom of our hundred-year-old farmhouse. I memorized the pattern of that wallpaper, stared at it for countless hours as I tried to fall asleep to the sounds of crickets chirping and the breeze rustling through the tall tassels on the cornstalks just outside my window.
Growing up on a farm was a lonely experience for me. Even though I was an introverted bookworm, I always wanted neighbors. People whom I could greet on the street and who would keep watch over my house at night. I wanted to know what life was like beyond those cornfields for people who were different from me.
Besides the wallpaper, I often stared at the back of my bedroom door, which I had plastered with the names of places I had cut from the headlines of the Travel section in each Sunday’sChicago Tribune. There, in bold letters, I read and re-read the names of places I longed to see.
“ROME!”
“LONDON”
“The Swiss Alps”
“L.A.”
“Copenhagen is for Lovers!”
“BAVARIA”
The back of my door was covered with place names, dreams that would carry me through turbulent high school years.
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Read the rest of the post here at Jen Michele's place.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

When Your Post Goes Unexpectedly Viral

So it’s been an interesting week.

Earlier this week I noticed an uptick in subscribers to my blog. (Hi new followers! I’m happy you’re here!) I was thrilled, but I couldn’t figure out where these new subscribers were coming from, so I did a little bit of investigating.

If you could just picture me on a random Thursday morning, sitting at my kitchen table in my yoga pants and Cubs t-shirt, coffee cup in hand, opening my blog for the first time in, oh, a while. (Sorry, I’ve been writing a book so the blog has taken a back seat for this season.)

Imagine the little hiccup of surprise and then the groan that came from me as I realized that a long-forgotten blog post from 2011, a controversial one at that, had generated 174 new comments and well over a million (yes, with six zeroes!) views in the past couple of days.

(Let me just say right here that I am SO BUMMED that I never monetized my blog!)

Anyway, that post. If you’ve been around here since 2011, you may remember it. It was a post about modesty titled, “How Your DaughterDresses Matters.” Apparently the modesty issue is still around and still triggers a fair bit of emotion. To say the least.

So just this week, over a million people have read this five-year-old post and a few thought it necessary to get involved in the discussion. Except it wasn’t much of a discussion. It was a lot of name-calling and opinion-shouting directed at me and others.

Thankfully I have the power to turn off comments, which I did, and I also decided to pull the post for a while. I needed time to think and pray about this issue and decide what God would have me do next. And I needed to figure out how to respond.

As I’ve been pondering, two problems come to mind that I feel I should address.

First, let’s talk about modesty . . . again. Specifically, let’s talk about my post.

To those who called my misogynistic and who told me that I’m contributing to the rape culture in this country, I’d ask you to please read the post again, slowly this time. Because nothing in that post speaks of hating girls or women. Nothing. In fact, I am the most pro-women mother on the planet—I’ve raised three of the most intelligent, strong, independent women I know.

Furthermore, there is nothing in that post that calls out a certain style of clothing—that’s not a discussion I care to have. I’m not here to tell you WHAT your daughter should or should not wear—that’s a discussion parents and children need to have together. I also don’t believe you’re going to hell if you wear a bikini—I have no interest in that discussion either. I simply want you to think about what you wear or choose to let your daughter wear and WHY.

[Side note and gratuitous plug here: my book that is comingout next year is based on asking WHY. Any Christian parents who want to think deeply about instilling important spiritual values in your kids might want to keep your eye out for it next fall. *wink wink*]

But the second issue I want to address, and one that is much more troubling to me, is how the discourse in our country has denigrated. The comments I read this week were far worse than the comments of those from five years ago. People today seem to get upset so much more easily, blaming others and pointing fingers.

There’s not much room for conversation anymore.

For instance, many of the comments I received were along these lines: “Oh yeah? Well, when is someone going to start telling the boys how to act?” or “I should be able to dress however I want; boys just need to be taught to respect women.” Finger pointing and blaming.

The problem is, that’s not what this post was about! I could write a hundred posts on the problem with the way boys are not being taught to respect women in this country, but that’s not what THIS post was about.

See, here’s the problem that I see over and over again in our country and it’s why I want to get off of social media altogether some days. People default to knee-jerk reactions, immediately taking offence without regard to the writer’s intended audience, purpose, or context.

What results is what looks like the current political situation in our country. It’s not pretty.

Seems like everyone wants someone else to be responsible, to pay, to be culpable for their offenses. Our sense of justice is high, but our sense of responsibility is quite low. We want to blame, but we don’t want to take a good, hard look at how we are actually living our life that may contribute to a problem.

In my original post, I was not trying to place blame on anyone. I was simply writing as a mother of daughters to other mothers of daughters to challenge us to think deeply about being a little counter-cultural in this one area. That is all. I was not trying to address mothers of sons. I was not trying to point fingers. I just want us to think.

Culpability? When it comes to culpability I think we are ALL responsible for keeping girls safe, and this is one way, as a mom, I am simply trying to do that.

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