what makes the church ... well, the church?

I posted a question on Facebook today, and I've gotten some really great responses, so I thought I might pose it here, too, in hopes of an even broader response.

What would your top three adjectives be to describe the church/Christian community (positive and/or negative)?

Would love to hear responses to this question from anyone, whether you identify yourself as a Christian or not.  I'm exploring the question of how the church/Christian community is perceived as part of the research and writing piece of my message prep for this weekend, and would really love to hear your thoughts.   (And if you do comment here - please do!! - could you let me know how you identify, just so I have a clear view of where you're coming from?)

Thanks so much for your help!

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol.11)

--- 1 ---

It's summer - the time of year when everything slows down... in theory.  My life really hasn't.  It occurred to me this morning, reading this article by Anne Lamott, that "manic" is no longer just Monday's adjective - my schedule is packed (entirely too much so), and finding time to slow down in ways that are truly, deeply restful has been so difficult.  But Anne's right - we only get one life, and I don't want to look back on it and only see how hard I worked.  I want to look back on moments of beauty and wonder, great conversations, and time spent doing things I loved.  So instead of tackling the 10-12 hours of work ahead of me today, I am blogging.  Because I love it, because writing is something that makes me happy, and because if I spend an hour here at my keyboard now, I won't be spending the rest of the day wishing I could be writing instead of doing all the other things that need to get done - and my attitude about all of it will just be so much better.

--- 2 ---

A handful of friends shared this video on Facebook yesterday.  Jessica Rey presents the history of the swimsuit, and paints the advent of the bikini as a scandalous and objectifying item of clothing.

I really appreciated what she had to say on so many levels.  It's heartbreaking when women dress in ways that aren't comfortable for them because society and fashion say they should, and wrestle with shame unnecessarily as a result.  But towards the end of the video, she gets a little accusatory towards parents who buy "immodest" swimwear for their kids, and I'm not going to lie - that really bugged me.  Ladies, the only thing that makes a bikini immodest (no matter what age you are when you're wearing it) is the attitude and the mindset behind why you're wearing it.  If you're wearing it to be provocative, then yes, it's likely immodest.  But if you're wearing it because you're comfortable in your own body, and you feel fantastic in it, more power to you!  I wouldn't personally wear one, because it wouldn't be comfortable for me, but I think we need to be careful about how we think about modesty.  Jessica says, "Modesty isn't about covering up our bodies because they're bad; modesty isn't about hiding ourselves.  It's about revealing our dignity.  We were made beautiful, in His image and likeness."  Yes.  And if a one-piece swimsuit helps you express that, that's awesome.  (I really love mine.  And the one I bought this year in all honesty is the first swimsuit I've owned in years in which I feel completely comfortable.)  But if you're comfortable in a bikini, then go for it.  Because modesty isn't about covering up.  It's about an honest and vulnerable expression of who you are.  And that's what we should be teaching our kids.

--- 3 ---

I had the privilege of hearing Jonalyn Fincher talk about modesty at the Bold Boundaries conference in April, and I was thrilled when she posted her response to Jessica's talk.  She did a little research into the Princeton study Jessica cited, and presents some really helpful perspective:

You can read more about Jonalyn's perspective on modesty on her blog, Ruby Slippers.

--- 4 ---

Yesterday, I found myself studying up a storm at the library in preparation for a message I'm preaching next Sunday on what "loving one another" really means - in the very same carroll in which I spent an afternoon six years ago coming to terms with my inner Donna Reed.  I've come a long way over the past six years.  ;)

--- 5 ---

I also had a really fun moment while I was studying when I looked out the window and got completely distracted by a squirrel.  #SQUIRREL!  I actually started laughing.  Which probably seemed really odd to the other people studying in that section of the library...

--- 6 ---

And to continue with the non-sequiturs: I picked up Spindle's End for the I-don't-know-how-manyth time again last night, and am really looking forward to spending a couple of hours just lazing about and reading tonight, once all my work is done.  And next up on my reading list: The Ordinary Princess.  (If you've never read it, you are missing out.  Just sayin'...)

--- 7 ---

I've loved fairy tales for as long as I can remember.  The first one I remember reading when I was very small is Beauty and the Beast - we had a pop-up book version of it with a green cover, and it had these laces so you could tie the covers together and the whole story was told in three pictures with so much detail.  It is still my favorite fairy tale, but Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella are close seconds.  There's so much to be learned from good stories, and the ones that have endured are so rich.  I'm working on a post about Cinderella's glass slippers - and am loving what I'm learning along the way.  Stay tuned!  And have a great weekend.  :)

(For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!)

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 10) - the Costa Rica edition

--- 1 ---

Best.  Birthday.  Ever.

I know a lot of really amazing people, and one of them decided to let me tag along on a relatively spontaneous trip to all-inclusive resort in Costa Rica.  I did very little aside from reading, sleeping, swimming, and eating for five straight days, most of it right here:

I'm not sure I even remember the last time I spent one day doing nothing, much less five.  This trip was SUCH a gift, on so many levels, and "thank you" (to my friend, AND to God) still feels so inadequate.  I came home feeling more deeply rested than I've felt in a really, really long time.

--- 2 ---

Costa Rica is an incredibly beautiful country - no matter what the weather's doing.  We were there towards the beginning of the rainy season, but the weather was ever so kind as to be warm and sunny (if occasionally overcast) for most of the day.  Afternoon thunderstorms rolled thru fairly predictably around 4pm (giving us just enough time to shower and change and get ready for dinner).  and the weather even contrived to be sunny and pour buckets at the same time one afternoon, producing this fantastic view from the balcony of our suite:

--- 3 ---

We flew into the airport in San Jose, and our resort was in Playa Conchal, so we rented a car to drive across the country.  (We also rented a GPS, which turned out to be totally worth it.)  One of the first things I happened to notice in the rental car agency was a very large warning sign posted on the way, which read something to the effect of "DO NOT CROSS RIVERS WITHOUT BRIDGES, OTHERWISE THE DAMAGES WILL BE CHARGED TO YOUR ACCOUNT."

"What on earth would warrant the need for such a sign?" I wondered.

Well... a week later it became evident that "rio" (river) is loosely applied to everything from actual rivers to small rivulets attempting not to look like puddles.  I suppose if you needed to get somewhere and the bridge was out, it might be tempting.  We did not break the rule.  But I may have had a small panic attack on the way back to San Jose when the GPS suddenly warned "EXTREMELY DANGEROUS BRIDGE AHEAD."  (Turned out it was not at all dangerous, having just been reconstructed.)

"But I am also somewhat comforted by the fact that a very large truck just crossed that bridge in front of us and nothing happened to it," observed my friend, grinning, as we drove over it.

--- 4 ---

Funny signs previously noted.  Rain.  Nightfall.  Four hour drive across the country to the resort after a full day of travel from the U.S. - thru Canada.  (Because that made sense...)

I admit that these factors probably played into my completely serious belief that this sign along the side of the road up to the resort meant "Brontosaurus Crossing":

No, seriously.  Squint one eye and pretend it's dark and raining, and if that doesn't work, cover up its head and think of the tail as a brontosaurus head.

I don't know what these animals were actually called, but they were some sort of raccoon/rat-like creature and they were super-cute.  For lack of a better name, they've been tagged as "Not-Brontosauri" in my Facebook photo album.

You can see how one might mistake them for small brontosauri from a distance, tho, can't you?

--- 5 ---

Did I mention Costa Rica was beautiful?

--- 6 ---

It also had super-fun squirrels.  (I am most excited about having my very own photo of a squirrel to use at crucial moments when wishing to create a diversion.  Squirrel!  (No, really - squirrel!)

--- 7 ---

And last but DEFINITELY not least: the reading list.

Ruby Slippers, by Jonalyn Fincher
Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg
Daring Greatly, by Brené Brown
and Beauty, by Robin McKinley

All of which I would HIGHLY recommend.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!