Month: July 2014

Rhythms of Grace: 3 Songs I Wish We Could Do On Sunday Morning

I finally finished the book I started reading for fun back in January. It’s only 212 pages, but took me 6 months. Don’t judge.

It’s called Rythms of Grace, by Mike Cosper, and it’s all about how the church’s worship through music tells the story of the gospel. I got it from my cousin Lauren following a conversation about how we feel, in many evangelical churches anyway, the music/worship teams don’t spend a whole lot of time talking about why we do what we do, or how we ought to be going about that purpose. We also don’t tend to talk a lot about what the church’s music history, just about what’s new.

I don’t think at all that worship teams leave this conversation out of our meetings on purpose. I think it just happens – most teams meet once a week or so for practice, and then arrive early Sunday morning to rehearse again before the service. It’s all we can do sometimes to make sure the microphones stop buzzing and the bass is balanced, so conducting an intellectual study about where we came from, musically, is not really on the schedule.

The book begins with an extensive history and description of the music and worship in our Christian heritage (all the way back to the creation of the universe). He talks about how worship is not just music, but all of creation moving towards glorifying the Father. (After all, “[t]he word worship comes from the Old English weorthscipe, which combines who words meaning ‘ascribe worth.’” Pg. 27.) But today, we tend to think of worship as being done through music, and he cautions about idolatry in the Contemporary Christian Music industry.

Two things really stood out to me as take-aways from this book. One is that the church service as we know it is fairly new, and I think we may have strayed a bit from it’s original purpose. Cosper encourages church leaders to adopt a gospel-shaped liturgy (the elements of the weekly service corresponding to phases in the salvation story), and thereby reinforce the salvation message into our weekly rhythm.

The other idea that stood out to me in this book is his discussion of the types of songs we sing. I’ll confess, at this part in the book, the author got too vague for me (I may re-read this chapter at some point), but he did get me thinking about our language, purpose, sounds, and heritage in the songs we sing. Cosper essentially asserts that the songs we sing ought to be culturally relevant to our Congregation, honor and remember those who were here before us, and embrace the local community, allowing them to be welcomed with open arms in all times.

This got me thinking about the songs we sing now, about where they came from and if we could improve our repertoire. First, there’s the sound issue. Music is cultural, and our culture changes. “For the past twelve years of so, ‘worship music’ has been its own musical style, a sort of quasi-Britpop sound pioneered by British artists like Delirious, Matt Redman, and other Kingsway artists. Somehow, the good work those men and women did in writing songs for their context became ‘canon’ (the rule) for everyone else. Now people hear is and say, ‘It sounds like worship…’” Pg. 180.

There is nothing inherently wrong with a four-on-the-floor driving Britpop sound, but that’s not the only sound for worship. In Heaven, it will be every tribe, tongue, and instrument rising together somehow in perfect blend and majesty. There will be no foreign sound because God made it all, and it will all be for Him. I wonder if we could add new sounds, different, strange sounds into our Sunday mornings so that we can experience even a taste of that beauty. (Yet at the same time, not so strange as to alienate our local community as well. It takes a lot of listening.)

Then there is the language issue. Cosper talks about how language, too, is cultural. We tend to stick with church-speak and jargon because it’s comfortable, if is it’s not understood by newer Christians, or even those who grew up with it. I remember when I was a child I was scolded one day for not singing with the church one of the songs. I said I didn’t sing it because I didn’t understand what it was saying. “Should I be singing if I don’t understand it?” I don’t remember what my parent’s answer was, but I still think about that today sometimes. Sometimes there are metaphors and references in songs I just don’t understand, as least not in the way the writer intended. Should we be singing those, or exchange them for words that mean something to us?

Language and music are infinitely mold-able, and we are very creative people. There are certain songs that mean so much to me, and to me they sound like worship, like Sunday morning or any time. I wish that we would sing them in church. But even on weeks when Massimo and I are leading we don’t chose these songs, because the Congregation may not know them, so they can’t sing along, or they don’t mean the same to them, so it would not be a time of worship. So we submit to the needs of our church and I sing along to them in my own time.

Nonetheless, I would like to share a few of them below as perhaps fresh songs to listen to on your own, or even add to your own services. To me, these songs “sound like worship,” not because of their particular music style (which does not really fit into the typical corporate worship sound), but because of their lyrics, spirit, and truth. I hope, too, that anyone interested in worship takes a look at Cosper’s book. It will not take you six months to read, I promise, and it will give a new appreciation for what happens on a Sunday morning.

“Ultimately, the future hope of worship rests not on the shoulders of any of us getting the equation right, but on the God who promises to restore it.” Pg. 42.



How to Avoid Being Asked When You’re Going To Have A Baby

It’s wedding season, and although I’ve already weighed in with my marriage advice, there was one important topic I did not discuss, but should be disclosed to all you newlyweds. So listen up: the truth is, now that you are married, you need to be prepared for the semi-constant stream of questions regarding your plans or opinions on having your first baby. And although the subject is deeply personal and really none of anyone’s gosh darn business, it will happen, over and over and over again. (In fact, I’m looking for information on exactly how long you need to be married without children before they stop asking: 3 years? 7 years? 15 years? Anyone?)

You thought they would be satisfied when you got married, after all, that’s what they asked about for years prior to your wedding. But no, now that there’s a ring, they need a BABY!

So how can you avoid this shameless invasion into your privacy? Here is some advice, but beware: it can happen when you least expect it.

1. Never, ever, EVER under any circumstances hold a baby in public.

This is such a rookie mistake. You thought you were just meeting your new niece/nephew/cousin/best friend’s infant, and that the polite and desirable thing would be to hold the thing. Hahaha you are not just holding a baby, like any ordinary person, you are auditioning, you are modeling, you are displaying you parenting skills for the world to critique. So put that baby down and walk away.

The last known picture of me holding a baby, from 2010, a good two years before I started dating my husband.

The last public picture of me holding a baby, from 2010, a good two years before I started dating my husband.

2. If you must hold a baby, DO NOT TAKE A PICTURE!

Another sad, rookie mistake. That’s not just capturing a brief, precious moment in your life, that picture is going on the Internet, and the Internet is going to comment that, “A baby suits you!” and “Look’s like you’re ready!” Bad. Or even worse, “When did you have a baby?! Congrats!”

Exception: If grandma just wants the shot, and has no access to the Internet, nor can she pass the photo to someone else to post on Facebook, take the picture, and get rid of the baby before anyone else gets any ideas.

3. Have an ally with you at all times.

This could be your baby-phobic spouse or an empathetic friend or parent, but it really helps because for some reason when  you say, “No, no babies for me now,” they don’t hear it, or forget it 25 seconds later. But when your friend or parent says it, then it is suddenly in a language they can understand. My mom is great at deflecting these. (Woot woot!)

4. Never, ever express your interest in children generally or in a specific child.

You can no longer say how much you like babies or that her baby is so cute. While I understand the difference between liking a baby and wanting to have one yourself, right now, this minute, adults do not understand this dichotomy. If you like children, or are good with children, then why aren’t you pregnant? Well, from my understanding it takes more than liking children to be prepared to get pregnant, deliver and care for the thing, and raise it for the next 18+ years. Just saying. But yeah, you can’t compliment another person’s kid. You will become a jerk, but that’s what it takes.

5. Do not decline alcohol, complain of an upset stomach, say, “I’m so tired and I don’t know why,” go to the doctor without explaining a non-pregnancy reason, wear empire-waist clothing, or gain small but noticeable amounts of weight.

These will all be quick indicators that you are pregnant! Only pregnant people don’t drink, only pregnant people get tired, and only pregnant people have stomach aches. You no longer will have any ailment or reason for acting weird other than pregnancy. Isn’t that exciting? That stomach flu you thought you had? It wasn’t – you are PREGNANT!


However,  let’s say some of these fool-proof methods do not work, here are some possible responses when a stranger pops the question:

1. Sarcasm

“Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you how I’m totally with child!”

(Danger! Danger! Only use with someone fluent in sarcasm. If not, it could spin out of control faster than you can imagine.)

“I can’t wait to get no sleep and clean up someone else’s bodily fluids all day.”

(This is a little more obvious, so it could actually work with someone not fluent in sarcasm. Be careful, though, because a very nice person will try to tell you how “It’s all worth it though.” Barf.)

“When do you think we should have a baby. We were looking for a stranger’s opinion.”

(A little rude, but it might just be the only way to get the message across. Or they will actually give you their opinion, which is….nice.)

2. Lies

“We’re looking into adoption, actually, would you be interested in donating?”

(This may or may not be true, because adoption takes so long, you could actually be in the pre-early stages and not even know it yet. But it is nice because it puts the buck back on them: will they give you a check? Bonus: you might get money.)

“I’m pregnant right now. Shhhh, it’s a secret.”

(If you are talking to someone who will forget your name when they turn around, this could work. But it’s extremely risky because they could blab and then you have rumors to kill by wearing super-tight clothes for the next three weeks. Use only if you are in a particularly snarky mood.)

3. Deflecting

“Hahahaha Me? As a mother? You must be crazy!”

(This is a little self-depricating, and a nice church lady might try to reassure you. But someone with a sense of humor might let it go here. Bonus: you get to call them crazy, even if you were the only one who noticed.)

“We really want to get a house first.”

(This is nice because it gives them a timeline: you can’t just buy a house tomorrow, it takes a long time to save up and find one. Suddenly that baby is looking like  a good three years out!)

“Have you seen these pictures of my dogs?”

(This totally puts the baby subject aside, and may even get rid of them because, generally, other than puppies, no one wants to see pictures of your dogs.)

4. Ignoring

“How was your son’s graduation party last week?”

(Anything that is about them and will get them talking a long time will do: parties, trips, specific projects at work. Just make sure it doesn’t look like you are trying to keep a secret by changing the subject because they could start some rumors.)

5. What you really want to do.

“Why ONE EARTH would I take into consideration your opinion when trying to figure out if I want to become a parent?! I did not ask you when I got married, I did not ask you when I chose were to live, pick a job, or pick a restaurant for dinner. So why in all this green planet would I want to know what you think about my uterus and our decision to have or not to have children.

“FURTHERMORE, how do you know that I”m not pregnant now, and just waiting to tell you, or children are a super duper sensitive topic right now. Huh? How do you know? You DON’T! It is never ever enough for you people. Please go back to wherever you came from and never ask another person when they are going to have a baby.”


Confessions of a Legal Intern

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I, like most of my fellow lawyers in training, am working as a legal intern this summer. Actually, I’m working at two law offices as two legal interns for two lawyers.

So what is this mysterious creature, a legal intern? What are it’s habits, and needs, and what on earth do they do all day? Well, I’ll give you the low-down on what it really means to be a legal intern.

Being a legal intern means you are actually encouraged to get a new job every 3-6 months because you get more experience and beef up your resume.

It means learning a new filing and labeling system, new motion writing methods, and new office practices every 3-6 months, and then getting criticized every time you make a mistake. (Do they underline or italicize case names in this office? I can’t remember! But I’ll get to do it all over again when I guess wrong.)

It means we need to try to fit in with our supervising attorneys’ wardrobes, who make six-figures, while making minimum wage or less (some of us do all of this and not only get no paycheck, but we are actually paying for the credits we earn there).


Legal interns get the questions that none of the other attorneys can figure out, and after spending hours in the library or on Westlaw, we still look stupid when our basic research skills don’t yield any fruit.

It means we write and print a lot of drafts of A LOT of letters, send more certified mail than you can imagine, and throw out 95% of what we produce. We are basically the earth’s worst enemy.

It means that we can easily spend all the money we earned that day in gas, parking meters at the courthouses, and paying for copies of documents. But we have to get copies of everything because 1) our freaking backwards country has not digitized everything yet and 2) if we miss the one thing that makes the difference, we have to come back and do it all over again. When in doubt, GET A COPY!


Legal interns know how awkward it is when we sit in on your meetings and court appearances, but we really appreciate it because it makes so much more sense to watch a lawyer work than it does to read about it in a book.

It means that some days we basically surf Facebook and the news all day, while other days we are so swamped we forget to go to eat.

It means we spend half our time thinking our bosses have the best job in the world, and the other half thinking that we will never, ever go into this type of practice.

It means we mostly just wish we paid a lot more attention to personal versus subject matter jurisdiction in Civil Procedure, and can’t believe Property Law was SO LONG AGO BECAUSE I CAN’T CUSSING REMEMBER ANYTHING!

It means we actually can tell you how important it is to have a will and get an attorney, but not in any specific way because we’re sworn to secrecy. Literally. I can’t even tell you how frustrating it is to know exactly all the bad stuff that can happen in any given situation, but not being able to warn you.

It means that we handle on a regular basis more cash and check deposits than we make in a year. No biggie.

It means we can take no credit for the good stuff we do and get blamed when everything goes wrong. (Devil Wears Prada much?)

It means I do realize how pale I look, and that I don’t get nearly as much exercise as you kids working at the bar, but I only have three months to work full-time and learn hands-on how to be a lawyer, so no, I can’t take a day off to go to the beach with you. I’m sorry.

It means that most of the time we are lightyears ahead of our bosses in terms of how to use a computer, but we still can’t remember how to make a proper heading without using an older motion.

It means we are constantly playing catch-up, trying to cover our massive insecurities, and trying to fake it till we make it, hoping and tripping the whole way that we will someday know what the cuss we’re talking about.


Southern Wedding Weekend [in Pictures]


My cousin Josh and his wife Sarah.

10507985_693863820661290_1316584218_nIt has been a record year for weddings in our family: as of now, it’s looking like three this year! (But it’s not too late to book that New Year’s Eve Ceremony, if any cousins are contemplating.)

This weekend it was off to North Carolina to see my cousin Josh marry the beautiful Sarah. It was 13 hours down and about 32 hours there, and 13 hours back. A long trip, but it was so much fun to visit with everyone and a true honor to see yet another person join our family through the covenant of marriage. I hope we get to see Josh and Sarah again soon, and that God blesses them for many, many years ahead!

A few observations about this weekend:

1. Virginia is a very, very big state and I don’t understand how it gets away with being so big. Not cool. All the New England states are like, doing their thing and just taking up as little space as possible, and then Virginia is all, “Let’s be obese!” and stretches its arms and legs out as much as possible. Knock it off.


This is when we finally hit Virginia, about half-way into our trip. You start to get a little loopy.

2. Any long trip should definitely be followed by a trip to the spa. We were fortunate enough to have some basic spa passes with our accommodations at the Rock Barn Golf & Spa. And boy was that fun.


The eternal farms of Virginia.

2a. However, we should really have the spa to ourselves, as we are a talkative bunch and tend to get kicked out of quiet spaces, as we were on Saturday.

3. The reception was inspired by The Great Gatsby, and I did not know fondant could be so new money.




4. I have a shockingly attractive family. I mean, come on, have you ever seen a more beautiful group of men and women? And what’s more, they are some of the most genuine, sincere people you will ever meet. I wish we could see them more.


This is [most of] the Devenney women.


This is [most of] the Devenney men.

5. I did not know you could serve filet minion and chicken together, but boy-oh-boy can you! And they were both delicious!


6. My family is fun. Like the serious kind of fun, where you can talk about it later and it’s funny even if you weren’t there. You know? The smart fun. Hilarious.


My sisters Elizabeth and Sarah and my second cousin Miriam.

7. Me and my family are way too susceptible to that southern drawl. Just 32 hours around everyone else and we started to loose our Yankee-ness! I’m so weak!

8. Even though I’m a Barbi, I’ll always be a Devenney. It’s funny how being around different pieces of your family can show you where you get different attributes. I got to be around some of my mom’s family last week for Nana’s funeral, and then some of my Dad’s family for this wedding. And I can be with each of them and know that I’ll always be a Bos, a Devenney, and a Barbi.


I write it like the doll.



How Not to Talk about Purity and Modesty


I’ve been reading a lot the last couple of years about how emphasizing purity can actually be a problem. Listen, I’m one of those crazy people who thinks that sex should be saved for marriage, but I also empathize with those who heard some weird stuff about purity, modesty, and sexuality growing up in the church. (But the problems are not just in the church; public schools across the continent have been called out lately for “slut shaming” and being unequally harsh towards girls for breaching dress codes.)

I’m not a parent. I’m not a youth leader, a church leader, or anyone with formal training in theology or any other -ology. However, I am a girl, who grew up in the church, and I call myself a Christ-follower. These are my only credentials to give a heads-up to those leaders and parents out there who do get to teach young-ens about purity, modesty, and sexuality. And thus here, in the same vein as How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, I’m hoping we can learn what to do by talking about what not to do.

1. Do not assume modesty is just about hemlines and strap thicknesses.

Modesty has a lot more to with your attitude than it does with the length of your dress. As one blogger pointed out recently on “Bunkers Down”, modesty with your clothes is great, but we also should be modest in how we talk, in how we spend our money, and in how we act. Narrowing this fabulous virtue down to a few numbers in a rule book do nothing for the other areas we need to address (like bragging and narcissism on *ahem* social media).

However, I do totally respect church and other leaders’ need to lay down rules. Don’t get me wrong. I’m going to be a lawyer, so I absolutely appreciate the value of a written code. Just don’t forget to mention that just because your shorts are long enough doesn’t mean you’re nailing the whole “modesty” thing. There are other battles to be won.

2. Do not tell girls they have to be modest for the purpose of protecting their Christian brothers.

Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. This was probably the worst one for me growing up. This is bad for boys and for girls. It’s bad for girls because we feel guilty about finally being confident as who God made us because some creepy guy can’t take his eyes off of us. It’s creepy and gross and does not help our self-esteem. At all. I was literally told once that I needed to stop shaking my hips because some guys were uncomfortable with it. I have curves. That’s just the way my body moves. You boys prefer me to be a slender double-zero with a run-way look (aka lack of any curves at all)? Me too. I”m fourteen, we all prefer that. But this is who I am. (I’m not kidding. That happened.)

And it’s also bad for boys because it’s a cop-out. We don’t give thieves an excuse when they steal, saying that the stolen goods were left unattended, so what do they expect?! How about instead of telling girls that it is our responsibility to keep boy’s minds pure, we teach boys that they need to keep their thoughts pure. Philippians 4:8 says”Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” It doesn’t say, “Take away every distraction, ladies, so the guys can think about pure things.” Lust is a sin, and I am not responsible for your individual sins.

That said, we should dress modestly for our own good and the good of our brothers and sisters. If you dress in a distracting way, you are going to cause a distraction. If you would like to be ogled and objectified, you can easily accomplish that with your outfits (men AND women). While you are not responsible for another’s ultimate actions and thoughts, what you do or don’t do can have an effect on others. And out of respect for yourself and others, it is best to be dress appropriately.

3. Do not use creepy analogies that equate virginity with value.

Chewed up gum? A ripped-open package? A torn up paper heart? Not only are these graphically violent, but they also tend to equate value with virginity, which is just not true. My value comes from my being created in God’s image. And while I do agree that sex should be saved for marriage, these analogies just don’t hold up after the wedding night. Nor do they help any victim of sexual assault.

How about instead of telling our teens they are only good if they are virgins, we let them know that while mistakes we’ve made (just like any) can be forgiven and we may be made pure in His sight, we will always have to live with the consequences of our actions.

4. Do not assume that men are the only ones who struggle with lust and porn.

The sin of lust is not gender-specific, and the number of women who are addicted to porn is on the rise. Could we just put aside stereotypes and talk about the real issues: that porn is harmful to everyone (the viewer, the family, the church, the company, the community, and the nation), and that lust is not something we can blame on low-cut shirts, it’s a sin. If we take away distracting stereo types, we can have a  much more constructive dialogue and, hopefully, actual progress towards a pron-free society.

I’ve heard so often that “men are more visual than women,” Please don’t say that. I don’t even know what this means, really, but I do know that lust plagues both sexes, and that both men and women can be negatively affected by visual images. (That’s why we talk about the negative body image problem being caused, in part, by models and magazine covers.)

5. Do not quote the old “men think about sex every seven seconds,” “fact.”

How would you even know that? I just refuse to believe this is true, and while quoting it is more or less a joke now, the message is that men like/think about/need sex more than women. And that’s just a lie! Please don’t use lies in your presentation on the “Truth about Modesty and Purity”. Thank you.

6. Do not under any circumstances say that a man will “go as far as you let him, ladies.”

Women are not the gatekeepers to sexual impurity. And men are not speeding trains that will only stop at any time if the women pulls the brakes. Men need to take responsibility for their own actions, and blaming it on her for,”Not saying anything,” is just a cop-out. A healthy physical relationship involves communication, trust, respect, and self-control; not locks and keys.

Somehow we got into this pattern of talking about sex as male-centered, which is harmful to men and women. As Kat on the blog “culture war reporters” wrote, “I’ve read many a Christian marriage book that primarily focused on the husband’s sexuality vs. the wife’s emotionality. While you can maybe argue that men lean more towards the physical and women towards the emotional, by reducing men and women to one characteristic we limit both genders. It tells men they aren’t allowed to be emotional, but it also tells the woman that sex is for the man. This male-centric aspect of purity culture automatically bases sex around a man’s pleasure. It also tells women their sexuality doesn’t matter as much as their husbands’.”

And once again – this does nothing to help relieve the guilt and shame for victims of sexual assault. (Are we sensing a theme here?)

7. Do not assume purity is just a physical line.

Jesus was very clear that both impure thoughts and impure actions violate God’s law. Similarly, purity is not accomplished by being able to say, “I didn’t do this or that.”  Purity is a state of your heart, which manifests itself in your physical actions. And don’t forget that God knows the deeper condition of your heart. You may be able to keep the rules that you’ve laid down, but your heart is what matters to God. “All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” Proverbs 16:2.

8. Do not give girls thirty-seven rules for “modesty,” while giving the guys none.

If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it a thousand times: in handbooks, lessons, devotionals, and rules, girls have a list as long as their shorts ought to be about what they can’t wear, while men may not have any rules at all. And it’s not just in Christian circles.

And while I understand that girl’s clothes in our society tend to be tighter and show off more skin than guy’s clothes, it can feel like being handed a straightjacket to try to conform to all those rules, especially when the guys have none. Go ahead, make rules, but please make them fair, and at least put some boundaries on the men. (For example, I don’t want to see your underwear under any circumstances, guys, and I don’t need to see inappropriate or sexist messages on your t-shirts. But no matter how hot it is, please keep your shirt on, as we are not at the beach, and do remember to take a shower, and keep the Axe to a minimum. Thank you.)


Here’s Why We Talk About Homosexuality So Much

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times: “Why are we so much more critical of homosexuality than other sins in the Bible, like gluttony? Don’t be a hypocrite and don’t judge when you are a sinner, too!”

I used to hear that and think, “Yeah, that makes sense. Splinter, log; pot, kettle: I got ya. I’ll be quiet now.”

But then I did some more thinking, and you know what, there are some pretty MAJOR flaws with that argument. And this argument is getting a new outfit, at least in my Facebook feed, in light of Gordon College President D. Michael Lindsay signing a letter asking President Obama to include a religious exception in his expected Executive Order preventing employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.

First of all, what you’re talking about is not hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is “the behavior of people who do things that they tell other people not to do : behavior that does not agree with what someone claims to believe or feel.” Like saying, “Don’t drink and drive,” then chugging some vodka and starting the engine. (Do people chug vodka? I don’t even know.) It would be hypocrisy to say, “Acts of homosexuality are a sin; don’t do that,” and then committing acts of homosexuality and being totally cool with it.

What you’re talking about is having standards, declaring what you think is right and wrong. Talking.

Also, there is a difference between hypocrisy and inconsistency. I stopped boycotting Ellen because I could not boycott her show because of her sexual behavior without also boycotting 30 Rock, when Tracy Morgan had a baby with his girlfriend before they were married, or any other person on any show because of their sexual behaviors. And those shows are both funny. It would be inconsistent to refuse to watch one for that reason and no other show.

Second, we do talk about other sins. Definitely not as much as we should, but I can distinctly recall having good conversations about coveting, lust, adultery, and pride. Granted, no one is voting on whether to outlaw coveting your neighbor’s donkey in the next election, and but the less politically relevant topics are getting some airtime. And often, the church avoids talking about sexuality at all because it’s not super good at having that conversation.

Third, we talk about homosexuality so much because it’s the hottest issue out there right now. At one time, it might have been skirts v. pants, racial integration, or lowering the drinking age, but today, and in this decade, it’s homosexuality and birth control that are stealing the spotlight. States are changing their laws, judges are handing down decisions, news crews are photographing same-sex marriages, Disney Channel shows are being boycotted, and Facebook profile pictures are changing to red equal-signs.

THIS is the issue of our time. THIS is the one that is changing, dramatically. Rainbows are popping up everywhere, and people are making up their minds: either subtly, with a vote, or loud, by leaving jobs. Homosexuals are well on their way to becoming a legally protected class (which is hugely significant). Gay is in. That is why we are talking about it so much.

And finally, this argument is essentially like saying, “You threw out the bathwater, might as well throw out the baby, too.” It’s saying that because we all make mistakes, we can’t point out mistakes made by others.

This is absolutely ridiculous. Can you imagine if an editor saw her typo in a story that she let get published, and – to avoid being judgmental – she let another writer’s story go to print with the picture upside-down? No. Just because you make a mistake doesn’t mean you lose all right to point out any mistake made by someone else.

Big point here, don’t miss it: WITH GRACE. The Bible says to “speak the truth in love,” under Christ, and let’s not forget about that. The truth is, homosexuality is a really big hot-button issue right now. But we also do need to remember to be loving, consistent, and full of grace. But that doesn’t mean we can’t participate in this on-going, growing national debate over homosexuality (which, by the way, is going to go down in the history books as a BIG ONE). And that doesn’t mean we can be hateful or disrespectful towards people with different ideas from our own, and that doesn’t mean we need to accept and encourage behaviors that we think are immoral. (Ever heard of “Love the sinner, hate the sin”? This is just an expanded version of that.)

[By the way, the issue of whether or not same-sex marriages should be legally banned in this country is really a question of legal standards of review and separation of powers for me, not the old separation of church and state thing. FYI.]


How Pregnant Are You On Social Media?

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With all the talk about asking your boss to pay for your birth control these days, I thought I would take things to the other end of the spectrum and talk about another issue plaguing our society: over-sharing pregnant women on social media. We get it, you are growing a human being inside of you and that is a pretty big deal, and probably exhausting. I’m super happy for you and maybe your thirteen Facebook posts a day are your way of documenting this magical time in your life, I don’t know. But I do know that there is such thing as over-sharing on social media, and pregnant women (and what they will soon become – new moms) tend to be a pretty big culprit in this area (though not ALL pregnant women – thank you!).

To find out how pregnant your social media platforms are, just take this simple, quick quiz. And remember, we all over-share sometimes, but it’s never too late to stop.

1. Is your profile picture your ultrasound photo? 3 points

2. Is your cover photo your ultrasound photo? 2 points

3. Are both your cover photo and profile picture your ultrasound photos? 15 points

4. Is your round, nude pregnant belly your cover photo? 20 points

5. Are there any nude (or look like you could be) maternity photos of you anywhere on the internet? 25 points

6. Are at least two out of your four most recent Instagram photos pregnancy-related? (this includes photos of your bump, swollen ankles, baby clothes, and/or food you’re eating thanks to “eating for two!”) 5 points

7. Have you complained on social media at least twice in the last week about stretch marks, cravings, lack of sleep, or “feeling enormous!”? 5 points

8. Are you more than three days passed your due date? -5 points

9. Have you made more than two statements to the effect of how you can’t imagine your life before you got pregnant and everything in your whole world is now and always will be for this infant? 7 points

10. Do you have a Pinterest board for every phase of this adventure? (Ex: Maternity Clothes, Pregnancy Food and Exercises, Breastfeeding, Nursery Decor, DIY Babyfood, Potty Training, Early Education, etc.) 10 points

11. Could I or any of your other 863 Facebook friends tell you when you had your last doctor’s appointment? 5 points

12. AND the appointment before that? 8 points

13. Does my news feed get clogged with updates on how big your little fetus is – daily?! (He’s a grapefruit?! Ohmygosh!) 10 points

14. Could your friends/followers tell you when to go to the hospital, thanks to your updates every time you have a contraction? (“Um, your status three minutes ago said you had a contraction, and now this one? You need to get steppin’ girl.”) 12 points

15. Did you make your announcement on social media the second you found out about the baby in your tummy, even before you told you mom/husband/boyfriend/sisters? 20 points

16. Did you make the announcement with a photo or video of a positive pregnancy test? 15 points

17. Have you ever made a statement on any social media platform about the grossest things you’ve experienced due to your pregnancy? 30 points

18. Could I, a virtual stranger, except that one time we took geometry together in ninth grade, fill out your intake forms at the hospital for you, just by browsing your extensive medical information you’ve shared on social media? 25 points

Add up your points, and heed the advice below:

First Trimester: 0-35 points

You are barely showing your pregnancy on social media! You may be hiding it, or you may realize that not everyone needs to know every detail of your nine months of growing a person. Congratulations! I hope you maintain this perspective well on into motherhood. You might want to take some pics of the baby, ya know, for the scrapbooks. But that’s all, really.

Second Trimester: 36-75 points

You might be over-sharing. Consider adding some diversity to your posts, like talking about the gorgeous weather, or a really fun place you recently went (NOT the doctor or birthing class). Finally, before you hit ENTER and share some news, think about maybe just texting it to a couple interested friends instead, like 2/3 of the time. That way they will feel special that you are including them in your journey, rather than annoyed at reading the same stuff on their Facebook feed every day, like a commoner.

Third Trimester: 76 points and up

Okay, everyone knows it: you are definitely an over-sharer. You not only need to stop posting about your pregnancy, you probably need to take a sabbatical from social media all together. Don’t worry, no one will miss you hour-by-hour status updates, letting us all know what you are craving. In fact, some people may thank you. And you can come back when you have the baby, but be warned: social media is not the place to announce every diaper, tear, smile, and nap. They have baby books, and cameras, and phones for a reason.

When you are tempted to make a post on social media, follow these simple steps:

1. Ask yourself who would get more use out of this information: that kid you sort of had a crush on in middle school but never even danced with, or your doctor? If it’s the doctor, don’t post it; proceed to the doctor. If it’s the kid from middle school, I don’t think you understand the question.

2. If the answer to number one is “Meh, not really that crucial,” then ask yourself this: did I post virtually the same thing (status update, photo, video, or link) yesterday?

3. If the answer to number two is “Yes,” then send it to your mom via a private message. If it’s “No,” then save it for later, and come up with something else to post about.

Friends and connections on every social media platform thank you for your consideration. And we’ll gladly post a “Congrats!” on your wall when the time comes, if you’re into that sort of thing.


SCOTUS, What You’re Saying Wrong, and Religious Freedom

The US Supreme Court held yesterday that closely-held for-profit corporations may be exempt (thanks to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment) from providing health insurance plans which cover some forms of birth control because of the religious beliefs of the corporations’ owners. (See how complex that was? Not a “ban on birth control”.)

Obviously, social media is wild with excitement on both ends, and I wanted to add my two or three or four cents.

First of all, let’s talk about birth control vs. contraception. Even within the opinion itself, there is some sloppy word-switching. Please get it right. They are very different.

“Birth control” includes any device or practice that prevents birth, including elective abortion. “Contraception,” by definition (but not necessarily in common usage), prevents conception (not implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterine wall); and “conception” refers to the joining of the sperm and ovum (not implantation).” via The Atlantic.

Secondly, here’s what’s definitely not happening: Hobby Lobby is not failing to provide contraceptive care to it’s employees. Nope. Not even a little bit. In fact, the company is providing health care plans which offer coverage of sixteen of the twenty approved types of birth control. They are just not into paying for some things that may cause an abortion. And I’m really okay with that.

All this exemption affects, according to USA Today are the plan-B pill, ella pill, and IUDs (which all, according to their drug information, prevent implantation of a / any fertilized egg into the uterine wall).

As a sub-point to this, the Supreme Court is definitely not restricting access to or banning some forms of birth control. In fact, part of the court’s reasoning in their analysis of whether the mandate was the least restrictive means of accomplishing the state’s compelling interest, was that there are other methods of allowing every woman to have access to these medications and procedures, and yet for some reason (not given) this system provided by the Department of Health and Human Services has not been expanded to include employees at for-profit corporations. So –  Boom!

Thirdly, this case is not about abortions, it’s not about sex, it’s not about your bedroom, and it’s not about rape. It is about freedom: freedom to spend your money where you want to, and freedom to allow your religious convictions to inform those decisions. And I don’t think that anyone – liberal, conservative, or anywhere else – can argue than making informed, conscientious decisions about where we spend our money is a bad thing. After all, isn’t that what we’re counting on when we encourage people to buy local, go green, purchase products made in the USA, or spend with companies that support charities?

Justice Alito specifically stated in the majority opinion that this decision is not meant to pass judgment on the morality of the use of certain types of birth control:

“The Hahns and Greens believe that providing the coverage demanded by the HHS regulations is connected to the destruction of an embryo in a way that is sufficient to make it immoral for them to provide the coverage. This belief implicates a difficult and important question of religion and moral philosophy, namely, the circumstances under which it is wrong for a person to perform an act that is innocent in itself but that has the effect of enabling or facilitating the commission of an immoral act by another.”

The Justice went on to say this Court has not been and is not interested in answering that complex philosophical question. See? No judgment.

The decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby is decidedly neutral on the subject of whether these forms of birth control are morally good or bad, and whether they cause abortions. (Based on the buzz around this case, it’s clear that people have different definitions of abortion. It was the plaintiff’s position that taking a medication that you know will or has a substantial likelihood of preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus, and therefore halting its development is abortive.)

All the judges wanted to affirm was that your religious convictions are protected, and that if you don’t want to pay for someone else to have what you consider to be an abortion, then you don’t have to (if you are a closely-held corporation). It was non-judgmental, it did not restrict access to necessary healthcare, and the company even went so far as to say that they would rather stay out of the whole issue, but the Affordable Care Act has forced them into it, against their will.

Finally, may I just express the irony in the fact that suddenly the slippery slope argument has validity. Justice Ginsberg warns in her dissent that this case is the start of a slippery slope, and that the logic the court used in it’s finding could allow other corporations to object to other coverage down the road. But when we said the same thing about the DOMA cases last year, everyone said we were crazy bigots. Suddenly, it’s a valid argument!

That’s all I have to say on this case, which undoubtedly will be the case of the summer to talk about. (Boy did I look like an idiot, though, when my boss brought up the union case decided the same day, and I knew nothing about it.)