Monday, August 26, 2013

DBAA :: {Conflict Resolution}

The other day I was on the tail end of my morning errand run, and had rounded the corner to a park I had promised to take Xander if he and Manasseh were good while we were out and about.  Psalty's If I Were A Butterfly was playing in the rear seat for the fiftieth time, and all three of us were ready to get the heck out of the car, and out into the sunny freedom of the playground.

A narrow street hugs the back side of the park, which is a mile long rectangle of gazebos, open grass, a toy train station, and the playground.  As I approached the narrow elbow curve, I saw that three vehicles had stopped right where it bent at a right angle.  They were completely blocking the way.

The drivers all hung out of their open windows, heads nodding up and down as they talked together, their arms slung out occasionally to accentuate a point.  I folded my arms over the top of my steering wheel.  They kept talking.

"Perhaps they're just finishing up the conversation..." I thought to myself, trying to be patient.  Psalty and the Kids Praise Band had switched to something blessedly slower paced, and I took a deep breath.  Waited a few minutes more.  Still, no movement from the threesome in front of me.

A couple more minutes passed, nobody had moved, and there was no way my Suburban could inch around them.  I gave my horn two quick taps.

The drivers all looked up at me, continued to confer for another couple of seconds, then slowly untangled their cars.  The first to pass me drove straight by, smiling determinedly at the road ahead, and refused to look at me.  This finally tipped my frustration into anger ... I mean, an acknowledgment would have been nice, at least.

Then the second truck pulled past me.  The woman behind the wheel deliberately caught my eye, gave me a sheepish look, and mouthed, "We're sorry!".

And that's really all I needed.  Her sincere look and quickly mouthed, 'sorry' diffused my anger, and I headed on with my day, to the park, where the kids and I played.

The interaction made me think, though, of all the times we inadvertently step on each other's toes.  I've been encountering it most often in the online arena, where somebody will say something that triggers somebody else, when they really weren't meaning to.  The triggered person then gets angry, and the first person then responds one of two ways.  They either say, "I don't know why you're angry, I was just _______  (insert justifiable excuse here)."  Or they say, "I see I triggered you, and I'm sorry for that."

The first instance is like the woman who drove past me, ignoring the consequences of how her behavior affected me.  The second instance is like the woman who gave me a simple but sincere apology.  That apology leveled the field again and we were able to go along with our day.

It's inevitable that we offend and are offended by people as we go through life.  Bumping up against other personalities and behaviors is going to cause conflict.  But most of the conflict can be resolved by the simple rule - DBAA.  In other words, don't be an asshole.  You stepped on somebody's toes?  Say you're sorry!  Somebody stepped on your toes?  Accept their apology!  Don't be an asshole.

I think maybe this is what Jesus was trying to get at in his Sermon on the Mount.  He said to turn the other cheek, and resolve issues quickly with your adversary.  He said if someone asks you to walk one mile, to walk two.  He said if you remember that you offended somebody, drop what you're doing and go make it right.  Basically, it boils down to not walking through life with an attitude of easy offense.  No matter which side you fall on in conflict, the offended or the offender, cultivate an attitude of love for others ... treat others the way you would like to be treated ... and don't be an asshole.


***Before I publish, I must add that I'm not talking here about deep offenses, or cases of abuse. Sometimes boundaries have to be set in order to protect yourself from people who are toxic to you.  Running back to an abuser in the name of 'forgiveness', or pushing hurt under the rug in order to bring a surface resolution are ways these teachings from the Sermon on the Mount have been used to perpetuate the oppression of victims.***

Friday, August 23, 2013

On Modesty :: {Everyone's doing it}

It didn't take me long to shed the habit of wearing a shirt.  I remember being two days into village living, our family's first solo foray of complete immersion in island culture, and my dad telling me, "You can take your shirt off, you know.  You don't have to wear it if you don't want to."

It was a suggestion, not a command, and honestly, it weirded  me out.  My mind immediately went to the two other men who lived on the island, native Papua New Guineans with kids of their own.  I was ashamed that they would see my 9 year old chest.  But as I observed my peers, and watched how the other girls on the island ran around in shorts or lava lavas, bare chested and free, one day I peeled my hot, sticky shirt off and was struck by the thrill of air blowing across my skin.  After a few hours, I forgot I'd even taken it off.  I didn't don another one until we left the island for civilization again two months later.

After our two month stint in the village was up, we packed all our things into bags and crates, and sat waiting for the outrigger to ferry us to the mainland, and to the rumbling diesel truck that would take us back to missionary base camp.  I suddenly became aware, after nearly eight weeks of not even thinking about it, that the top half of me was unclothed.  I remember the internal conflict as my brain struggled to shift from 'village' to 'town', and considered for a while if I would even put a shirt back on once we got around other Westerners again.  But seeing the outrigger approach our island caused something to click in my brain, and I began digging for a T-shirt in our bags.  

This started a dual standard of modesty for me.  In the village, I would go topless and sometimes even strip naked to swim, until I reached puberty.  In town, I would cover up.  In the village, I became used to all the women around me baring their breasts to the sun, and wrapping their lava lavas (cloth sarongs) tightly around their waists.  In town, nobody wore lava lavas in public because they were considered akin to nightgowns.  In the village I went barefoot, even over where the reef was made jagged and treacherous from the surf.  In town, I wore flip flops.  It was no big deal, switching from one standard to the other.

One evening, I wrapped a clean lava lava around my waist in preparation for church.  I was experimenting with a new style of wrapping it, with the cloth gathered until it hit right above my knees, and then tucked in jauntily at my waist to create a bright waterfall of fabric down the side.  I liked the shortness, because I had discovered that just bringing the hemline up two inches, going from hitting just below the knee to just above it, made it much easier to move around, and my lava lava didn't get tangled up in my legs.  Shirtless, shoeless, and prayer book in hand, I set off to evening service.  

I wasn't five yards from my front door when an older girl stopped me.

"Don't wear your lava lava like that!"  she scolded.  "It's indecent!  Especially at church!!!   Lower it down so it covers your knees."  Appropriately chastised, I lowered my hemline and she moved on, shaking her head at my indiscretion.  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lately, I've been in a lot of discussions online around the topic of modesty.  They're usually on religious (read:  Christian) blogs, since it seems that other people really don't care about the issue as much as we do.  I think that, of course, everyone's entitled to their own opinion about the issue.  And really, it has to come down to personal opinion.  After all, even Webster defines 'modesty' as "Observing the proprieties of the sex; not unwomanly in act or bearing; free from undue familiarity, indecency, or lewdness; decent in speech and demeanor".  Who (or what), then, gets to define this propriety?  I think that each culture sets its own general standard, which probably evolves through time based mainly on climate and social anthropology.  And then that general standard becomes narrowly defined by each individual person, or people group (family, religious group, clan, etc).  

Like I said, this is all very well and good.  The problem comes in, I think, when people start equating modesty with Godly righteousness.  They use the term, 'biblical modesty', and quote Scriptures to support their assertions that women should cover their bodies in a certain way.  

I have a big problem with this.  I think these people, although well-intentioned, are completely misreading those infamous 'modesty passages'.  What passages am I talking about here?  The favorite seems to be: 

Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.  1 Timothy 2: 9 - 10

I would add the sister verses 1 Peter 3:3 - 4, in which the apostle Peter addresses the same type of issues that Paul did in his letter to Timothy.  Peter says:

Your adornment must not be merely external - braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.

What both apostles are talking about here is not hemlines, or how tightly clothing clings to a woman's form ... they're talking about good works, flowing from a heart submitted to God.  This supports what did Christ Himself taught (as it should - Scripture should agree with Scripture)  He didn't lay down lists of rules.  Instead, He reiterated time and again that it's not what's on the outside that matters to God - it's what's on the inside.  

"You think you're OK if you don't commit murder?"  Jesus asked.  "I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to the judgement."  

"You think you've fulfilled the requirements of the law by not committing adultery?  .... But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."  

This is something I'm finding to be true time and again as I study the Scriptures.  Man looks at the outward appearance.  But the Lord looks at the heart. 

Going back to 'modesty'.  I find it interesting that the definition I quoted above from Webster is actually the secondary definition for the word.  The first definition is, "Restraining within due limits of propriety; not forward, bold, boastful, or presumptuous; rather retiring than pushing one's self forward; not obstructive".

Interesting, right?  Sounds like what both Peter and Paul were getting at when describing the behavior of a Godly woman.  

One last definition to throw out, and this is, I think, the most important of all.  It is the definition of the original Greek word, translated in our English bibles as 'modest', that Paul used when he wrote his letter to Timothy - 'aidos'.  It means, "a sense of shame or honour, modesty, bashfulness, reverence, regard for others, respect".  (If you're interested in where I found this, or in doing further study on your own, check out www.blueletterbible.org.  It's a wonderful resource for bible study.)

Peter and Paul weren't talking about women dressing their bodies in such a way as to cause the men around them to think lustful thoughts.  They were describing to new Christians, who were living during the infancy of Christianity, what defines a Godly woman.  Should it surprise anyone that the majority of women back then were much the same as the majority of women today?  We love our elaborate hair styles, and cute jewelry, and hard-to-get handbags, and status phones.  But the apostles said, in their letters to the churches, that Christian women weren't supposed to be about that.  We're supposed to be about good works, flowing out of submissive hearts that aren't proud, but are rather humble.  

Go ahead and read all the passages the purity advocates throw out to back up their positions on hemlines and bathing suits, and this time, read them with a new lens.  Read them with the lens of grace and truth that Christ brought to the Jews' strict interpretation of the Law, remembering that always, man may care about the outward appearance, but the Lord cares about the heart.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Love Worth Waiting For

It was my first semester at Texas Tech.  I was fresh out of high school, and intoxicated with the freedom of dorm living.

I found a church easily, because my roommate, someone I knew from our high school youth group back home, suggested the Baptist church with the big college service.  I loved it from the get go, with its edgy preacher who talked about sex from the pulpit, and the loud praise and worship band.  One of the girls who sang in the band lived a floor below me in my dorm.  We struck up a friendship over a couple of meals shared at a little corner table in the dining hall, and soon Tamera became my ride to church.  

One Sunday, as we met in the lobby and walked out under the stately arch that framed the dorm's heavy front doors, she said to me, "Hey, I'm going to pick up an RA from Sneed Hall.  He asked me at work the other day if I would give him a ride to church this Sunday."  Tamera worked in the office at another dorm, this one all male.  

Of course, I perked up.  Being 18 and new on campus, boys were never far from my mind.  And this one was an RA, implying that he was at least a year above me.  Oh yeah, baby.  

We pulled up in front of Sneed.  The three story dorm is set back a quarter of an acre from the road.  It has a long, winding pathway of red brick leading through grass and around elm trees towards its corniced entryway, which is twin to our, all female, dorm.  A young man was leaning against one of the square, stone columns that flanked the doors, and as we came to a stop at the curb, he pushed himself off and headed towards us across the green.

From my place riding shotgun, I straightened my back and gave my curls a preparatory scrunch.  He opened the passenger door, and as he slid onto the seat behind me, I turned slightly and cast a coquettish look over my shoulder at him.  This look, I knew from experience, was as effective as tossing a baited hook into a koi pond.  

Except that he ignored me.  I watched, a little insulted, as he settled his wide frame into the seat and placed his bible beside him.  His eyes were deep set and long lashed, and they were turned on my friend.  "Thanks for the ride," he said quietly.  

"Oh, you're welcome!  This is Danica, by the way.  She's from my dorm."

I settled my face again and gave him a smile.  He glanced at me. 

"Hey."

Um, that was it?  Really?  Whatever, I thought to myself.  There are plenty of fish in the sea.  Miffed, I turned myself around and focused on chatting with my friend for the rest of the ride.  

The quiet young man became part of our circle of friends, and soon he, Tamera and I would go to football games, or ride together to meet everyone at Chili's after church.  He didn't really say much, but was very earnest, and seemed to spend most of his time inside himself, watching the world from within an impenetrable psychic shell.  We became friends.  

When December rolled around, Tamera began to talk excitedly about the university's annual Carol of Lights.  Apparently, all the architecture would be outlined in red, yellow and orange Christmas lights (and in fact, I had already observed crews on scaffolding busy around campus doing just that), and then there would be a big ceremony, on a Friday night, with lots of singing, with the grand finale being all the lights turning on at once.  

"But I can't go with you to watch,"  she informed me over our chicken lo mein (it was Chinese night in the dining hall).  "I sing in the choir, so I'll be up on the platform.  But I told him that you were going, so he wouldn't have to go alone.  Can you just meet him here, and then you guys can walk over to where the Carol will be?"  'Him' being Mr. Psychic Shell.  

"Sure,"  I replied, and she let me know the exact time and place she had already discussed with him.  

On the night of the Carol of Lights, my friend Maren, Maren's boyfriend Chad, and I, waited in our dorm's lobby.  At the last minute, Maren remembered she needed something from her room.  "I'll just be a second!"  she called over her shoulder as she leaped back up the stairs, taking them two at a time.  Chad and I chatted until cold air wafting towards us made us aware that the outside door had been opened, and someone had come into the room.

"Oh, hey!"  His broad shoulders were hunched against the bite in the air, and I noticed that his nose was red at its tip.  He thrust his hands into his pockets and as his gaze swung from me, to Chad, and then back to me again, I had a sudden, intense desire to explain.  "Oh, uh, hey, this is Chad.  Have you met Chad?  Chad is Maren's ... boyfriend.  Chad, meet ... "

The guys shook hands as Maren appeared in the doorway.  "Ready?"  she said brightly.  

The Carol of Lights was absolutely magical.  Most memorable, was the rendition of O Holy Night, sung in soul shuddering tenor by one of the university's music professors.  After many Christmas carols, Feliz Navidad, and a procession by the school's male spirit squad led by Raider Red himself, a hush grew over the crowd.  When it had reached its deepest, there was a sudden fanfare, and on cue, thousands of tiny lights leaped into existence.  

(source)
It was as if we were suddenly transported from a college campus, into an exquisite fairy land.  Every artifice, moulding, window, door and tower was outlined in yellow, red and orange pin pricks.  The crowd drew a collective gasp.  I was speechless.  It was a moment I will remember for the rest of my life.

Maren and Chad had wandered away some time after the Mariachi band started playing, so the two of us made our way slowly through the dispersing crowd.  I wasn't ready to go home.

"There's supposed to be a parade after the ceremony.  You want to go watch it?"  The thousands of Christmas lights cast a dim glow that reached us even where we stood, and looking up at his face, I could see how the cut of his jaw brushed his upturned coat collar.  

"Sure.  I'd like that,"  I answered.  We meandered back across the commons, and found a spot on the curb right outside of his dorm, almost the same spot Tamera and I had parked that first Sunday morning I met him, months ago.  

My sweater, which had seemed almost too warm back in the dorm, was by now testifying to my inexperience at dressing for cold weather.  As we stood waiting for the parade to start, I shivered and pulled my arms around myself.  

He noticed right away.  "Are you cold?"

"Oh, I'm OK.  It's just, I didn't think to wear my jacket, and ..."

He was already shrugging out of his coat.  "Here, wear mine."

"Are you sure?  I'll really be OK, I just - "

"No, it's fine.  Look, I can run up to my room real quick and get another one for myself."  

"Oh, OK, well, thanks ... "  I took the coat and he turned toward the lit up dorm behind us.  As I slid my arms into the over sized sleeves, already toasty from his body heat, I watched him sprint up the walk towards Sneed Hall.  

This man wasn't walking, or even hurrying towards the building - he was running.  Sprinting.  Like he didn't want to miss a second.  Like the most important thing in the world was for him to get his coat, and then get back to me.  

And as I stood there on the dark curb, my hands tucked into the borrowed coat's sleeves, Christmas lights glittering in a fairy land around me, something warm sparked in my heart, and I decided that any man in that much of a hurry to get back to me, was worth waiting for. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A year and a half later, I married that man.  And last Sunday, we celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary.  Happy Anniversary, Scott.  You're the love of my life.  

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Lying to Your Kids :: {Yes, I do it}

When I was 8, we had just gone through missionary training camp in Papua New Guinea, and were half way through the 'village living' segment of the training.  It was 1989.  The Berlin Wall was being torn down unbenownst to us, but the fall of Communism was nothing compared to learning to fish with dynamite and eating squid eyes.

We spent our month of village living on a tiny island nestled in a bay carved into the coast of the PNG mainland.  The island had three huts, one for us, and one for our 'Wass Papa' ('watch father', or 'watch family', who looked after us and taught us how to do basically everything from poop in the outhouse perched over the mangrove swamp, to gut a fish), and one for our Wass Papa's inlaws.  The bay was filled with little creatures that shimmered iridescent at night, leaving a starry wake when you moved a paddle or your hand through the water.  There was one huge tree at the far end of the island, which had a rope tied to an extending branch, from which we'd swing with wild abandon into the bay.


Even at the mature age of 8, I had a special blanket with silky lining around the outside edges, which I would rub against my face while I sucked my finger.  It was incredibly calming.  And at this time of upheaval in my life, when we'd just left America and were living in drastically different conditions, that comfort was incredibly important to me.  My mom, with her typical foresight, had cut a small piece off of my blanket to take to village living with us, so that the entire blanket wouldn't be accidentally dropped in a cooking fire and be lost forever.

Although I was supposed to leave my blanket piece at home, I snuck it out of the hut one day when I went to meet my Wass Papa's kids at the rope swing.  One thing led to another, and before I knew it, an hour had been spent swinging out and then dropping into the water.  When the fun was over, I realized, with a sinking stomach, that my blanket piece was gone.

I was hysterical.  My mom responded the way I later would to my own kids:  "Well, I'm sorry, honey, but it's your responsibility."  My dad, on the other hand, responded the way Scott does now.  He took his mask and snorkel, and went out in a Herculean attempt to locate one lost blanket piece in the vast ocean.  An hour later, he came back, and told my sobbing 8 year old self the following lie:

"Honey, here's what happened to your blanket piece.  A mommy fish was swimming along, looking for something soft for her baby fish.  You see, the mommy fish's nest in the coral for the baby fish was hard and the poor baby fish was so uncomfortable.  The mommy fish found your blanket piece floating along, and took it in her mouth and put it in her nest and now the baby fish has a nice, soft place to rest."

It took some convincing, but I eventually acknowledged that the baby fish needed my blanket piece more than I did.

It wasn't until my 20's when I realized that fish do not actually make nests like birds do, nor do they need soft things with which to line the nests.

-------------------------------------------

Fast forward 24 years, and I am sitting at my kitchen table with my own 6 year old, talking about our upcoming beach vacation with the cousins.  Sophie had never been to the beach before, and was excitedly talking about everything she wanted to do with Paige, her 4 year old cousin.

"We are going to splash in the ocean!  And make sandcastles, and look for shells.  And pearls.  I want to make a shell necklace AND a pearl necklace with Paige."

Me:  "Um, honey, pearls might be hard to find on the beach.  You see, clams ..."

But Sophie interrupted me, "Oh, no, I am going to look REALLY hard for them.  I'm really good at finding things, Mom.  Paige will help me, and we'll find pearls and make fancy pearl necklaces together."

My heart softened, and I was struck by sudden inspiration.  "You know,"  I said slowly, "Sometimes, you can find nests of pearls on the beach.  Maybe you and Paige can look in the sand and find some pearl nests?"

A quick call to my sister in law and my mom set the rest of my plan in place.  Weeks later, on our first day at the beach, my mom pulled me aside and showed me the strands of pearl beads she had found on sale at Hobby Lobby.  I slipped down to the beach, created six 'nests' of pearls, and marked each site with a single bead on the top of the sand.

A few minutes later, the girls arrived at the beach, buckets and shovels in sand, and what followed were twenty minutes of wonderment and excitement.


Paige kept yelling, with a hysterical pitch to her voice, "We're RICH!!!  We're RICH!!!", while Sophie grabbed frantically at the pearls and dropped them into her pail.  

Yeah, I lied to my kid.  But it was totally worth it.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Reblog - Jamie the Very Worst Missionary :: {Human Sex Trafficking}

Jamie the Very Worst Missionary, is a blogger I've been following for a while.  I really respect her view on missions, and also Christianity in general.  Her honesty, boldness and empathy floor me every time.  I highly recommend checking out her entire site, but I wanted to pass along this very important post.  She recently took a trip to South East Asia, to witness the sex trafficking trade.  I'm usually highly skeptical of things like this (especially if they seem sensationalized), but Jamie's post was honest and heartfelt enough to bring tears to my eyes and literally tug my heartstrings.

Go check her out:

 http://www.theveryworstmissionary.com/2013/07/the-big-ask-how-can-i-help-fight-human.html

Monday, July 22, 2013

Walmart on a Friday Night --- To the Lord!

In our small town, Walmart is kinda like Rome.  All roads lead to it.  Scott and I usually go together, because each of us would rather pick out what we need than risk the other getting the wrong thing.  So we load up ye old Suburban with the three kids, blue recyclable bags, Moby wrap, sippy cup, water bottles, snacks, and after a last shoe check to make sure nobody arrives barefoot, we set off.

This past Friday we weren't doing a 'big trip', where each of us takes a basket and we stock up on groceries for the next two weeks.  We had just run in to get some sundries for the weekend.  It was the end of a long day.  Scott had risked going in his work clothes in order to save time.  Usually, he changes into a t-shirt and a ball cap, in order to avoid awkward encounters with people whose loved ones he had incarcerated earlier in the day.  The kids were hungry.  We were rushing.

I had promised Xander that he and Sophie could pick out a Lunchable for dinner.  This is a rare treat, since Lunchables make the kids hyper and usually don't fill them up enough.  As soon as we entered the door, he was tugging on my arm.  "Mom, can we go pick out a Lunchable?"

"No, son, we need to shop first.  When we go near the Lunchables, then you can pick one out."

"But WHEN, mom?  WHEN can I get a Lunchable?  How many minutes?"

This is his new favorite question, and as a four year old has no concept of time, it seems rather pointless to me, but I answer anyway.  "Twenty minutes."

"TWENTY MINUTES?  Like, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 .... 11 .... 12 ... 15 .... 17 .... 18, 19, 20?"

"Yeah, like that.  Come on."

We start our loop at the toiletries first, and by the time we've checked the store's ammo supply, he's already asked four more times, and I have to threaten peanut butter sandwiches for dinner if he doesn't start being patient.

When we finally get around to the deli section, where the Lunchables are displayed in a brightly colored array, we've already stopped three times to talk to someone we know, and Manasseh's drained his sippy cup and either eaten the crackers, or else dropped them in a trail through the store.  I may or may not have kicked a few under some shelves on the way.  The baby's starting to fuss, and I know we're pushing bed time.

"Xander!  There's the Lunchables.  Go pick yours out."  He runs to the display.

Now, here's the thing about my oldest son.  He is the most exuberant person I know, and throws himself passionately (sometimes this is a literal thowing) into everything that occupies his attention.  He's also always been musical.  I remember him tapping his matchbox cars against different surfaces to hear the sounds they made when he was barely crawling.

He accompanies himself, often loudly, with a soundtrack throughout his day.  His favorite refrains are the themes of 'Super Hero Squad', 'Power Rangers', and singing, 'to the Lord!'.  Each of these applies to different situations - if Xander's eating lunch, he'll absent mindedly hum, 'Super hero SQUAD!' to himself.  If he's succeeding in something, he'll sing, "Go, go, big boy BIKE RIDE" (to the tune of Power Rangers).  And if he's just accomplishing some every day task, he'll sing what he's doing, and add an enthusiastic, "To the Lord!"  to the end of it.  For example:  "I love my friend ... to the LORD!", and, "I hit my sister ... to the LORD!"

This must have been a To the Lord moment, because Xander planted himself in front of the display case and sang, at full volume, "Lunchables!  TO THE LORD!!!  OHHHHHH YEAAAAHHHH!!!!  TO THE LOOOOORRRRRD!!!!!  I love Lunchables!  TO THE LORD!"  I was sure the people clear over in the dressing rooms could hear him.

"Come on, son, pick out your Lunchable.  And turn it down a little."

Whispering now, "Oooohhhh yeah.  I can eat a Capri Sun Lunchable ... to the Lord."

He and his sister finally picked out what they wanted, and we made a break for the checkout.  We'd rounded the corner of the frozen foods, when Sophie let out a shriek and I heard a scattering, rattling sound behind me.  Turning, I saw her standing in the middle of the aisle, with pearl beads bouncing and cascading rapidly around her in an ever widening circle across the white linoleum floor.

Sophie had chosen to wear her pearl necklace to the store that evening.  When one is six and a half, one knows the importance of proper accessories when going out in public.  This was a special necklace, made from pearls she had found on our beach trip last month.  (What, did you not know about pearl nests?  Apparently, you can find nests of pearls in the sands of beaches everywhere, with pearls conveniently pre-drilled for stringing.  Sophie and her cousin went on a pearl hunt while we were on vacation and found six such nests amazingly close to the path we used to walk to the beach every day.  Perhaps I'll write that story out soon - it bears telling.)

Anyways, she had strung her precious pearls and was wearing the necklace that night, when the fishing string had become untied and now we had a pearl emergency, in the middle of the Walmart frozen foods, with Lunchables quickly warming to room temperature and a one year old approaching critical melt down.

I couldn't just leave the beads on the floor, because besides the fact that I didn't want someone to slip on them and break a hip, Sophie believed they were actual REAL PEARLS, and she had found them with her cousin.

That is how I came to be on my hands and knees, with shoppers taking a wide birth around me, fishing pearls out from under a freezer with my 6- and 4-year-olds, while Scott watched the cart and blew raspberries on Manasseh's fat cheek.

Don't judge, ya'll.  I'm a mom.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Clanging Cymbals - My Guest Post!

So I haven't written much on here about my spiritual journey.  Of course, my faith, as part of my life, is mixed in with most of my writing, but I don't usually write *about* my faith, itself.  Over the last several years, I've been slowly sorting through things from my childhood, teen and young adult years.  It's been a process of unraveling the dogma from the very real and good exercises of faith and righteousness.

I'm involved in an online community called, "Stuff Christian Culture Likes" (curated by Queen Bee Stephanie Drury, on Facebook and a blog).  She often posts articles that are related to 'Christian Culture', pointing out the alternating ridiculous, hurtful, or healing aspects of the Christian Church.  She sometimes posts articles by Zach Hoag, who is a published Christian blogger, and who always writes with respect, thoughtfulness and empathy.  I was involved recently on a discussion on his blog, after which he asked me if I'd like to write a guest post for him.

 Let me think about it ... um, YEAH!!!

My thanks to Zach, I'm honestly humbled and honored that you even asked for my thoughts.  And everybody, head over to his blog to not only read my post, but also check out his writing.

Clanging Cymbals:  Danica Newton on Twitter Preachers & Bad Fruit

Monday, July 15, 2013

Burning the Midnight Oil

It is the witching hour here at the Newton house, and for some reason I am as wide eyed as the cats who are stalking shadows in the next room.  I'm already regretting my sleeplessness because I know that toddlers wait for no man, and tomorrow Manasseh will be crying for his milk bright and early, as usual.  But here I sit, a square of sea salted chocolate in hand, with the warm night soft around me.

I remember waking up late at night on Luaniua, when the moon was full.  Of course, we had no indoor plumbing, so a trip to the beach was my only option for relief from a full bladder.  The moon was so bright, that it poured like molten silver through the louvered windows, cutting the blackness.  I pulled my lava lava tight around my waist, and slipped through the house, which swayed slightly on its stilts at my movement.  Down the stairs, and out onto the coral perimeter of our house.

I stopped for a moment, taking in the alien starkness that the moonlight gave to the huts around me.  Shadows were thrown into sharp relief, everything was bright silver or black.  A ghost breeze set the coconut fronds above me clattering, and I began padding my way through the huts, towards the distantly pounding surf.

I walked, alone and quiet, through the rustling night.  I passed squat huts, whose slumbering inhabitants betrayed their presence only by the occasional snore filtering through mat walls.  Cooking fires had long gone out in each doorway I passed.  Even the pigs, when I reached them, grunted grumpily and rustled their moon kissed snouts into the sand.

The moon follows the tide.  So when the moon is as round and bright as a silver platter, the ocean draws itself high up onto the beach, further than at any other time of the month, and cleans away 26 days of debris.  It sounds different in this state, and I could hear the altered cadence of the waves as I neared the end of my path.  Breaking through the last of the pandanas trees, I was suddenly out of the world of light upon shadow, and was now fully bared before the moon's gaze.

The beach, spreading out before me, reflected the brilliant light back up into the night, so with the moon above and white sand below, the whole place seemed to glow.  A cool breeze skipped off the waves, coming towards me after eons of travel.  It tugged at the hem of my lava lava.  The moon sang down.  With my toes sinking into the wet sand, I unwrapped my lava lava, clutched an end in each hand, and flung my arms open to the night.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Turn On the Light

Last night, Xander was piddling through his usual bedtime stalling ritual, and I was, as usual, becoming impatient with him.  As he dug in the closet for yet another pair of pajamas, because the ones he was wearing just wouldn't do, I flipped the light switch in an attempt to hurry him up.  Immediate darkness descended on the room, and a terrified squawk issued from the closet:

"MOM!  Turn the light on!  I'm scared!"

Isn't it funny how he had to have known that I was right there, in the room.  So was his sister.  Nothing had changed except that now he couldn't see us, and he immediately became scared.  The darkened room suddenly became a place where danger was hiding, and he (in his own mind, at least) was imminently vulnerable.  I flipped the light back on, and problem solved.

Last August, my entire family got together in the mountains for a long weekend.  We hadn't all been together for an extended period of time like that, my mom and dad, siblings, in-laws and kids, everybody, since Scott and I were engaged 11 years ago.  We'd spent a few hours here and there, but everybody was always too busy, us siblings with our jobs and families, and Mom and Dad with their ministry, to commit any more time than that.

We hadn't really been a family together, in fact, since the summer before my junior year of high school. That was the summer when our family split up, and we forgot how to be.  Mom and Dad, Anna and Matt went back to the Solomons.  Nathan and I stayed in America.  I was 16.

When my folks came back in March, I wasn't ready to see them.  The part of me that missed them, that needed them, that wanted them, had been pushed way, way down and locked up tight and shoved into a dusty, cobwebby corner of my soul.  The pain of separation had been locked up in there, too.  I shouldered a new identity, 'Danica, Responsible Adult', and shed the old, 'Danica, Daughter of David and Pam'.  When they came back, I was not about to pull out and dust off the old me.  That would mean facing the pain, the separation, the feelings of abandonment in the name of God.  It was much easier to bolster up my bravado and allow a crack to widen into a ravine, then a gulf, then a chasm between us.

I went off to college.  I got married.  I moved to another state.  I had kids.  All the while, my parents were throwing themselves into their work, and my siblings were living their own lives.  We all had perfected the art of packing the pain away in a suitcase and locking it tight.  We'd get together, and all of the things left unsaid hovered like malevolent poltergeists, charging the air and sabotaging conversations.

Then, a year and a half ago, my parents came back for an extended furlough.  It was really a Sabbatical, justly earned by two people who had given up everything, literally, for the cause of Christ.  Mom kept pushing for a family weekend, a time when we would all be under the same roof for several nights.  I didn't want to.  Extended family time meant that the tenuous hold I had over that dusty old suitcase in my soul would considerably weaken, and I didn't want to face what had been festering there for 15 years.  But I went along, we all did, because we love our mom, and we could see this was so important to her.

The last night of the trip, we all sat contented and full from an al fresco dinner, of enchiladas, guacamole, beans, rice, and beer.  The sun had long set behind tall mountain firs, and a few of the boldest stars had begun to prick holes through the velvety sky.

"I think we should all go around and say what we love about our family,"  Mom started in.  Bitter, angry, and cynical, I sat with my mouth stubbornly shut as one by one people piped up to share.  It wasn't that I didn't agree with what they were saying - I did.  But in my eyes, we were once again trying to paint a rosy coat on the pain I knew we were all harboring inside.  The junk in the suitcase rumbled, and I gave it a firm mental poke.

When the sharing time was over, we had a time of prayer.  Again, I didn't say anything.  I couldn't pray to God while pretending everything was OK.  He knew and I knew that the suitcase was becoming more insistent, now rocking out from its place in the corner of my soul and demanding attention.

My dad rounded up the prayer with a benediction.  He started with Nathan, the oldest, and began prophetically praying blessing over him, his wife, and kids.  Then he worked his way down the chain.  When he got to me, Dad prayed, "And God, thank you for Danica.  Thank you for her honesty and fire, for her boldness, for the way she never shrinks back from the truth ... "

By the time he had finished praying through the entire family, I knew what I had to do.  Reaching down into my soul, I flicked the rusty lock and opened my pain.  Beginning to speak, stammering, haltering, stumbling over tears, I gave voice to the insecurities, the rejection, all the difficult feelings I was experiencing.

I began, for the first time, to speak the truth to my family.  I told them, "Everyone says we're OK.  We're not OK."  I told them, "I want us to be better."  I told them, "It really hurts me when ... "

This opened up a flood of confession, as one by one we spoke our fears into the soft night.  We spoke our hearts.  We spoke truth.  We turned the light on the past and saw it for what it was.  We heard each other.  We understood each other.  We healed.  And the gulf, the chasm, the gap between us suddenly shrunk down to a crack.

You see, darkness is scary because it hides our fears.  It is the darkness, it is the lies that separate us from true intimacy with one another.  It is the darkness, it is the lies that keep us in bondage, unable to even be true to ourselves.  By turning the light on, by allowing honesty and truthfulness into our lives and relationships, we experience freedom for ourselves and intimacy with others.

Your relationship with someone can only be as intimate as your ability to be honest with them.  Sometimes the other person doesn't want honesty, but truthfulness can still set you free in that relationship.  When you allow lies, even little ones like simply omitting the truth, to enter into your interactions with others, you run the risk of denying who you are, which is the very worst bondage to be in.

As Paul exhorts us in the book of Ephesians,

 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. 
... You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. 
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.  (Ephesians 4:15 - 27)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wardrobe Malfunction

The M.V. Baruku, although resting peacefully now atop a Southern Pacific reef, was the rust bucket that carried us to and fro from Honiara, to Ontong Java atoll.  The ship would come about every three to four months, laden with treasures of cloth, rice, canned foods, the occasional fresh produce that survived the three day trip, and as  many green-faced passengers as could be packed on deck without sinking the thing.


The advent of the ship was always heralded by a herd of pikininis, running naked from the ocean side of the island and screaming the news of, "Keva'a!  Keva'a! (Ship!  Ship!)", throughout the village.  From then, it was another good two hour's wait as the Baruku slowly grew from a barely distinguishable speck on the horizon, to the ship that it was, chugging along the reef with its passengers standing out in sharp relief against the sky.  The captain would carefully navigate it through the deep passage a few islands down from us in the chain, and into the lagoon.

Once the ship had settled its anchor in front of Luaniua, people would start out to it in their canoes and bright orange, fiber glass, outboard motor boats.  Kids would load up like bananas in a bunch on their little canoes, and swarm the ship.  New people and new things were are rarity on the island, and there was only a day, maybe two, to enjoy the novelty before it moved on.

One time, when the Baruku came to Luaniua, I went out to greet it with a group of friends.  I sat wedged between the legs of one friend and against the back of another, my butt soaking from water that had splashed into the bottom of the canoe when we all got in.  We'd recruited a little brother to paddle us out, and as he did his work, we excitedly watched the ship draw nearer.

It was teeming, like a mango that has been left overnight and is furry with ants by morning.  People were tossing cargo from the deck down into canoes below, those on the receiving end fluidly catching the bags of rice and boxes of tuna and rolls of bedding, then placing them in the bed of the canoes, all the while balancing as the waves kept both ship and canoes in constant motion.  When we got to the ship, our boy threw out a line to someone on deck, and we balanced ourselves against the boats on either side of us to prepare to board.  One by one, the girls in front of me stood carefully and reached up to grasp the hands that stretched down to pull them up to safety.

Then it was my turn.  I always felt like I had something to prove when outsiders came to the island.  To those on Luaniua, we had long since ceased to be a novelty,  and were simply Teveti, Pamela, Letani, Danika, Ana and Tiu - friends, enemies, rivals, adopted family members.  I became so comfortable there, that my own white skin would startle me when I looked down at it; I was so used to seeing brown.  But newcomers to the island saw our white skin and probably thought it was hilarious that we were dressing like, talking like, and acting like the villagers.  I was always conscious of eyes on me when the ship was there, and I was determined to not embarrass myself by acting like a white girl.

So when it came my turn to go from canoe to ship, I stood with confidence.  And forgot that my butt had by this time become saturated in the bottom of the canoe.  A wet lava lava stays on no matter how  you move.  But a lava lava that is wet on the bottom and dry around your waist will unravel, as the heavy, wet cloth sticks to your legs.  So when I stood, I could feel the cloth snake from around my waist, threatening to pull completely off and leave me standing there in my T-shirt and nothing else.  With desperate hands I grabbed at the cloth and held it to my navel.  Looked down to check.  Whew.  It was still hanging to my knees, and everything was covered.

Carefully, I planted a bare foot against each wall of the canoe and straightened.  I could feel the eyes of the Melanesian crew members on me, and also the islanders' family members from town.  I looked up to the strong hand that was extending to me.  I would have to let go of my lava lava in order to be pulled up.

Taking a moment to adjust my wrap-around, I cinched it more tightly around my waist.  Opened it a little to get more leverage.  And a breeze bounced up from a rising wave.  That rogue bit of air took the edge of my lava lava and flung it behind me.  The wet cloth stuck, and I looked down with rising horror as I saw the entire length of my thigh exposed.  A delighted, decidedly bass, whoop rose up from the decks of the ship.  This was a culture where breasts are bared, but nobody can see what's from your hips to your knees.  I'd basically done the cultural equivalent of flashing my breasts at a bus full of frat boys.

Burning, I snatched my recalcitrant lava lava back in place, tightened it with desperate firmness, and allowed myself to be pulled on board.  Oddly enough, even though I stayed extra close to my friends while we explored the boat, we seemed to come across an awful lot of crew members, all of whom were very interested in talking to us.  I let my friends do the talking.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Book Review :: A Year of Biblical Womanhood ::

I'd been hearing rumblings about this book for a while now.  A Year of Biblical Womanhood, by Rachel Held Evans, was on my reading wish list, and I couldn't stop talking about it.  I'd heard that Evans, a popular blogger, had done an experiment in which she took all the commands for women in the Bible literally for a year, in an attempt to discover what true womanhood is, as defined by the Bible.  My curiosity was piqued, and I talked about the concept to anyone who would listen.  That's why, on Christmas morning, when I found it nestled in a recycled, pink baby shower gift bag, I was ecstatic.  I leaped to my feet and kissed Scott with tears in my eyes.

"What's this all about?"  he asked, referring to my watery eyes and delighted kisses.

"It's just that ... I love that you gave me this.  It means that you care about me, and my journey, and my continuous discovery of who I am."

I immediately posted a picture on Facebook, and was lost in the book for the rest of the week.


In her introduction, Evans says,
Now, we as evangelicals have a nasty habit of throwing the word biblical around like it's Martin Luther's middle name.  We especially like to stick it in front of other loaded words, like economics, sexuality, politics, and marriage to create the impression that God has definitive opinions about such things, opinions that just so happen to correspond with our own.  Despite insisted claims that we don't "pick and choose" what parts of the Bible we take seriously, using the word biblical prescriptively almost always involves selectivity.
After all, technically speaking, it is biblical for a woman to be sold by her father (Exodus 21:7), biblical for her to be forced to marry her rapist (Deuteronomy 22:28), biblical for her to remain silent in church (1 Corinthians 14:34 - 35), biblical for her to cover her head (1 Corinthians 11:6), and biblical for her to be one of multiple wives (Exodus 21:10).
This is why the notion of "biblical womanhood" so intrigued me.  Could an ancient collection of sacred texts, spanning multiple genres and assembled over thousands of years in cultures very different from our own, really offer a single cohesive formula for how to be a woman?  And do all women of Scripture fit into this same mold?  Must I? (p. xx)
Evans set about her pursuit of biblical womanhood by identifying twelve virtues - gentleness, domesticity, obedience, valor, beauty, modesty, purity, fertility, submission, justice, silence, and grace - and focused on one virtue each month of the year.  In October, she cultivated a gentle and quiet spirit, as per 1 Peter 3:3 - 4, took an etiquette lesson, attempted to kick the gossip habit, made herself serve penance by sitting on the rooftop for every time she was contentious with her husband.  My favorite part about Evans' month of gentleness was her experience with contemplative prayer.  I have heard these words in various forums for a while now, but wasn't sure exactly what contemplative prayer is.  Basically, I learned, it is a form of meditation, where you still your spirit and listen, rather than spend your time talking to (at?) God.   Reading Evans' beautiful words about contemplative prayer inspired me to attempt to practice it on my own.
I don't know for sure, but I think maybe God was trying to tell me that gentleness begins with strength, quietness with security.  A great tree is both moved and unmoved, for it changes with the seasons, but its roots keep it anchored in the ground.  Mastering a gentle and quiet spirit didn't mean changing my personality, just regaining control of it, growing strong enough to hold back and secure enough to soften. (p. 16)
I was beginning to fall in love with this book.  I loved Evans' fresh take on 'biblical' virtues that I have heard about my entire life.  See, the thing is, for me, the words 'biblical womanhood' come loaded with lots of impossible standards and shame.  I hear the word, 'gentleness', and I immediately think about my own fiery nature, the passion and drive that are as much a part of me as my left pinkie toe.  For so much of  my life, I have thought that I have two choices - either conform to the standard of a 'biblical woman', thereby forsaking some core part of my passionate identity, or be true to myself, and forsake God.  Neither solution seemed to be acceptable, so I spent my life walking a tightrope between attempting to fulfill standards, and shame.  With this first chapter of A Year of Biblical Womanhood, I began to feel a weight lifted off my shoulders.  Here was someone who thought like me!  Here was someone who had the same questions I always have!

The next virtue Evans tackled was domesticity.  I found this chapter hilarious, as she described teaching herself to cook and attempting (not very well) to clean via Martha Stewart's Cooking School and Homekeeping Housebook.  I loved this part:
After reading Brother Lawrence, I tried to go about my housework with a little more mindfulness - listening to each rhythmic swishing of the broom, feeling the warm water rush down my arm and off my fingers as I scrubbed potatoes, savoring the scent of clean laundry fresh out of the dryer, delighting in the sight of all the colorful herbs and vegetables and cheeses on my countertop.  And sure enough, I found myself connecting with that same presence that I encountered during contemplative prayer, the presence that reminded me that the roots of my spirit extended deep into the ground.  I got less done when I worked with mindfulness, but, somehow, I felt more in control. (p. 29)
In December, Evans focused on the virtue of obedience.  She addressed her husband as 'Master' (1 Peter 3:1 - 6), and would have the entire month, except that he grew uncomfortable with it and ordered her to stop!  She also interviewed a woman living in a polygamist marriage, and held a touching ceremony honoring victims of misogyny.  

Next, Evans addressed valor, and it was my absolute favorite chapter of the book, hands down.  Here she looked at the 'Proverbs 31 Woman', that ideal we are all held up to.  When I read Proverbs 31, I am inspired by the words, but also hear that nagging voice in the back of my head - "YOU don't rise at dawn" ... "YOU don't keep the house very clean (watch over the affairs of the home)" ... "YOU spend way too much time 'eating the bread of idleness'".  At the end of the passage, when the husband rises up and says, "Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all", I always feel a longing to be worthy of that praise, but know in my heart that I fall short of earning it.  So you can imagine how incredibly freeing it was to read the words of the wife of a Jewish rabbi, 
Here's the thing.  Christians seem to think that because the Bible is inspired, all of it should be taken literally.  Jews don't do this.  Even though we take the Torah literally (all 613 commandments!), the rest is seen differently, as a way of understanding our Creator, rather than direct commands.  Take Proverbs 31, for example. I get called an eshet chayil (a valorous woman) all the time.  Make your own challah instead of buying?  Eshet chayil!  Work to earn some extra money for the family?  Eshet chayil! Make balloon animals for the kids at Shul?  Eshet chayil!  Every week at the Shabbat table, my husband sings the Proverbs 31 poem to me.  It's special because I know no matter what I do or don't do, he praises me for blessing the family with my energy and creativity.  All women can do that in their own way.  I bet  you do as well.  (p. 87)
After valor, Evans spent a month on beauty, modesty, purity, and then fertility. (During which she adopted a computer baby.  Hilarious.)  And then came June, and the virtue of submission.  Here is where I hit a snag in the book, and found some things I disagree with Evans on.  One of the things I love (and love and love and love) about her is that she looks at the Bible with a fresh perspective.  She puts a female spin on old stories, pointing out things that I have never noticed before, probably because I hear most of my bible teaching from men.  After each chapter, she writes a short vignette about a woman in the bible, putting a real face and human emotions on what used to be secondary, sideline characters, who served as footnotes to to bigger stories.  I love this, and it has caused me to approach my own bible readings with new eyes and a fresh curiosity.

In the chapter on submission, Evans says that, "with Christ, hierarchical relationships are exposed for the sham that they are, as the last are made first, the first are made last, the poor are blessed, the  meek inherit the earth, and the God of the universe takes the form of a slave (p. 219)."  I like that Evans pointed out how Christ made us all equal, and it's true, he didn't care who a person was or what status they had.  But I disagree with her assertion that Christ was against any kind of hierarchy.  Christ Himself said, "I can do nothing on my own initiative.  As I hear, I judge; and My judgement is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me (John 5:30)."  Even within the Holy Trinity there is a hierarchy, with God at the head and Christ submitted to Him.  You see this concept of hierarchy and order repeated throughout the Bible.  It's impossible to ignore.  

In addition to this, in referencing the passages in the Bible about submission, Evans skipped over some parts that are, to me, important.  She quoted Ephesians 5:22, "Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord," and never mentioned the verse right after it, which says, "For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body."  Evans says of the Ephesians passage (and the ones in Colossians and 1 Peter), 
The questions modern readers have to answer is whether the Greco-Roman household codes reflected upon in Ephesians, Colossians, and in 1 Peter are in and of themselves holy, or if their appearance in Scripture represents the early church's attempt to blend Christianity and culture in such a way that it would preserve the dignity of adherents while honoring prevailing social and legal norms of the day.  The Christian versions of the household codes were clearly progressive for their time, but does that mean they have the last word, that Christians in changing places and times cannot progress further?
A very good point.  But I would say that still does not answer the section where Paul compares the husband as head of the wife, to Christ as head of the church.  No matter what way I look at it, there is no way around that picture.  And I love the picture, because, as it says in verses 30 - 31, "we are members of His body.  For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh."  I love that Paul dignifies women in a culture where they had no voice or autonomy, by addressing them directly and even telling men to "love his own wife even as himself", a radical concept at the time.  

It's not that one is 'higher' or 'more important' than the other - they are one flesh.  And yet there has to be a head (since God seems to place so much importance on it throughout the Scrpitures).  It seems like a paradox - how can we be unified, equal, and one, and at the same time man be possessed with the authority of headship?  Paul agrees, saying, "This mystery is great."  (v. 32)  I don't think we will ever be able to fully understand it.  I have had to become comfortable sitting in the paradox. 

The problem I have with this whole debate, the debate of complementarian vs egalitarian, is that they represent two extremes.  I really do feel that they are both right, in a way.  As Scott said while we were discussing the topic later, "You can't cut an apple in half, throw away half of it, and still have a whole apple."  In other words, both concepts are important to the whole.  Yes, hierarchy is established by God for order in the world.  But that does not mean that men rule over women.  It does not mean that all women have to submit to all men.  The very big, very real problem with complementarianism is that it has been taken way, way too far to impose control and dominance over women.  I know, because I have experienced it first hand.  I know a single mother in her 60's who calls her son, 'sir', and will submit to 'obeying' him because he is a man and, in her eyes (and his), is the ultimate authority.  Scott has personally been told by someone of the complementarian mindset to 'get control of' me, his wife.  It is ugly, and it is wrong.  And it is a sad, sad shame that it is perpetuated by the church, in the name of Christ.  

At one point in my life, not too many years ago, I would have denounced the paragraph above that I just wrote as, 'feminist propaganda trash'.  I would have called the author, 'rebellious to her authority', and vulnerable to the 'Jezebel spirit'.  I was so sure that I was interpreting the Bible passages correctly.  Now, I have a different interpretation.  I say this, to demonstrate that just because I disagree with Evans' view on submission, I can't say that I have the definitive view on it, either.  I may be right, she may be right.  People a lot more knowledgeable than I am have been debating this subject for centuries.  All I can do is approach the text with a humble, open, seeking heart, and ask God for wisdom when reading it.  And then, give grace to my sister who obviously did the same thing and came away with a different interpretation.  I still love what she had to say about so many other things, I loved the way she fleshed out biblical characters, and I won't allow a differing view I have with her on one point, to negate the rest of what she has to say.  

In conclusion, I highly recommend this book to anyone, women especially, who are looking for a fresh take on what it means to be a woman of God.  It made me laugh, it made me cry, and most importantly it made me turn back to the Scriptures, searching them for myself to discover the truth God's heart towards His daughters.