Actually, I owned Justin Lookadoo’s “R U Dateable?” book.

justin_lookadooAll the current uproar over Christian speaker Justin Lookadoo’s controversial dating message and speech to a Texan high school reminded me of a yet another reason why I write: I once owned his book  back in 2008 or so. It’s interesting to look back and see the subtle influencers in my life and how in many ways, I had to completely abandon them in order to be mentally & relationally healthy today. Christian dating books were bad influences in my life–maybe I read them too young, but they molded my mind and heart in unhealthy, incorrect ways.

EDIT: To learn more details (albeit biased perspective) about the current Lookadoo vs. Texas/the Internet debacle, go here

Growing up in a conservative (although on the scale of 1 to Duggar, we were probably a mere 4, equating to a strange paradoxical system of TV shows we weren’t allowed to watch [no Harry Potter, but yes to "Bewitched"?], True Love Waits rings, and many, many modesty talks [unfortunately even the most concealable of tops from Khols still showed that well, I'm in fact a girl]) household, the idea of “dating” was strange and almost exotic, like a marsupial or the state of Wyoming.

I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 16, a birthday that came & went without really doing anything to change my relationship status. (It’s not like 12:00AM on my birthday a godly and wonderful (but never “hot,” because as my friends and I would say, a person is not a temperature) boy showed up to profess his sudden interest in courting me. Nope. I was a laaaaaateeeee bloomer.)

But no matter. I wasn’t 100% sure if I was even allowed to date at 16 anyways, because when I’d broach the subject to my dad, conversations would always be a little like:

Me: So Dad, I’m almost 16 and all my friends are allowed to date then. Can I?

My Dad, the man who went to law school: Define dating. Define a boyfriend. Define a date. Define group dating.

Me: …nevermind.

But being excessively curious, I went to the only place I knew that would give me life-breathed, holy advice for this mystery called dating: the young adult aisle at Family Christian Bookstores.

I'd call it the mecca of Christian stuff, but that seems a little religiously contradictory.

I’d call it the mecca of Christian stuff, but that seems a little religiously contradictory.

Oh the young adult book aisle. Located conveniently next to Bible aisle, so whenever I’d be poring over the latest Christian dating fad  book like “Every Young Woman Needs to Know This About Men” or “Technical Virgin:How Far Is Too Far?” and some blessed little granny would walk by, I could NOT GET CAUGHT looking at a dating book! Me? The intended demographic for a book on dating actually seen READING IT!? NO. So with my lightning fast reflexes, I’d pretend to be looking at the spine of a random NKJV until the danger passed. Psh, me look at dating books? Who do you think I am, a boy crazy pop singer I wasn’t allowed to listen to?

Justin Lookadoo and Hayley DiMarco’s “B4UDate” was actually the first dating book I purchased (and is currently FREE on Amazon Kindle??), albeit still veryyyy nonchalantly.  I felt awkward and unwanted, but I hoped by getting this book, I could suddenly learn how to be wanted. Being dateable was the ultimate accolade and proof of worth. (Oh how I wish I could go back and talk to 15 year old me.)

I read a lot of dating books back then (before I even knew very many guys beyond the three weird ones in my homeschool group.) “B4UDate” as well as the countless others (including “Dateable” by the same authors), employ very subtle fear tactics. I was convinced–thanks to these books–that boys were basically untrustworthy, heartless sexual sociopaths. They would use you and then lose you–and of course, as a girl, your most valuable asset was virginity. Once one of these boys/sociopaths tricked you into having sex with him, you were like a useless piece of construction paper pulled apart from another: messed up, void, and unwanted.  So, boys were untrustworthy and suspicious. (Let me tell you, it took a really long time for that lie to be retaught into truth.)

One thing I definitely recall from the books that I tried super hard to replicate in my own life was consequently the big controversial bit today: being mysterious (aka shutting up.) Over and over again, I would read that in order for a boy to stay interested (presumably he’s not also trying to get in your pants) was to basically reveal close to nothing about yourself–ever. Be mysterious. Let him ask. Let him  talk.

I googled "How to Be Mysterious to Men" and this was the top result....

I googled “How to Be Mysterious to Men” and this was the top result….

Anyone who knows me also knows this concept has never really worked for me. I’m the most open book, heart on my sleeve person out there. Even if I’m not talking, you probably know what I think just by looking at me. I’m NOT mysterious. And thus in  being myself, I break the ultimate “dateable” rule.

R U Dateable? According to that standard, I sure am not.

And may I just say, thank the Lord for that. Books that hold impressionable young people to impossible (or in many cases, incorrect) gender standards and stereotypes are false teaching. As a society we ought to be better than that and as for the Christian community, come on. Enough is enough.

The truth sets you free. It set me free from that terrible mantle of relationships Christian dating books (here’s looking at you “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”) established in my life and it continues to set me free daily.

Side note: I tried to sell my copy of “B4UDate” to a used bookstore a year or so ago…they wouldn’t take it at all. Hindsight’s 20/20…

An Autumn Promise

Psalm 84:5-7

What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord,
    who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,
    it will become a place of refreshing springs.
    The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.
They will continue to grow stronger,
    and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.

God led me to this passage a few nights ago and I was struck by the perfect timing. I’m not sure where my Jerusalem is, but I know that I’m in a season of pilgrimage towards it. (Anddd it’s autumn, so holla at you, verse 6!)

May these verses be just as encouraging to you as they have been for me, especially fellow pilgrims. God will use the things you’ve dealt with in your own personal “Valley of Weeping” and turn it into a place of blessing, hope, and refreshment.  I’m ready for all that.

Getting Lost in Cambridge

Hands down my favorite avenue in Cambridge.

Hands down my favorite avenue in Cambridge.

Sometimes, you just have to skip class and wander. Tolkien wrote that not all who wander are lost, but given my horrible directional skills, I definitely achieve both simultaneously sometimes.

Armed with my Calvin Klein for Costco rainjacket and a playlist full of Bon Iver, I explored the city center of Cambridge all afternoon, reveling in the beauty of the moment.


#selfie #casualthursday

There’s nothing quite like walking down the narrow cobblestone sidewalks of an ancient city, the raindrops falling on your face a reminder of the fact you are alive.

We need more reminders of the fact we are alive. You might be thinking that’s the stupidest, most obvious thing you’ve ever read—we’re alive, no kidding—but when was the last time you did something that made you wholly cognizant of that fact? We are just walking, breathing bundles of dust, living in a world full of self-medication to numb the pain of life. We crave simple moments of beauty, ones which reflect the presence of greater Good in the world, Jesus Christ. To be honest, before this past week, I was still a member of the walking dead. A change of scenery did nothing but add new methods of distraction.  Exploring the tiny harbor town of Howth, Ireland woke me up again (more details to come.)

So much beauty

So much beauty

So, how should you go about with this resuscitation? Do something non-goal oriented/ time frame based by yourself. Go for a walk, explore something, read on your front porch, paint, hike, whatever.

I think one of the biggest obstacles that twenty-somethings face in this whole weird “finding myself” phase is the fear of being alone. Doing any activity alone scares people to death because as it seems to signify the future presence of a glaring neon sign “Forever Alone.” It’s so healthy to be alone. You learn so much about yourself and become a thousand times stronger with this independence.

So go on. Get lost. It’s good for you.

The Thrill of Hope (and a clean slate)


I wish Banksy would do a piece in…Cleveland, TN.

I am thoroughly convinced that New Year’s Eve is the best celebration of the entire calendar year.

True, Christmas is of course charming and wonderful, but there’s just something about December 31st. The last final flash of magic of the Christmas season thrives on that night. And finally, when the clock strikes twelve, the grandeur of the season is over, only to be replaced by one of the greatest qualities of humanity: hope.

…That tiny spark which ignites within you at the beginning of the year, promising that the best is always yet to come.

New Year’s is blissfully idealistic (sometimes to a fault), offering mystery and allure. After all, who wouldn’t like a clean slate? Perhaps that’s why resolutions are often so aggressive; the hope for complete lifestyle change is too appealing to pass up.

2012, what a year. Twelve little months have held so much heartache and joy, growth and regression, and countless lessons learned.

Everything has changed. Case in point, this time last year I wasn’t even acquaintances with some of my current closest friends! I never thought I’d spend my summer halfway across the country, never dreamed I’d be spending a spring in England, never would have guessed I’d decide to pursue a writing career, never imagined I’d begin running.

I knew nothing of what 2012 held and let’s be honest, I’m even more in the dark about 2013. After graduating, I haven’t a clue. But that’s the beauty of the new year. You don’t have to know, but you must trust in the hope that one day you’ll look back and say “Wow, I worried for nothing. Everything worked out extraordinarily.” God’s got you.

Oscar Wilde was right: “The suspense is terrible. I hope it lasts.”

“You may all go to hell, but I will go to Texas.”

-Davy Crockett (and all gift mugs & shot glasses in every souvenir shop)

It’s hard to believe that my summer in Texas is coming to a close, with merely 2.5 weeks left. There’s something about the summer that makes time feel so lethargic and docile, while contrarily speeding away haphazardly. I’ve learned so much about life, God, time, and myself. To describe my summer here, there’s only one fitting word: necessary.

I think there’s such an interesting correlation between leaving and learning. If you think about it, the hero of a coming of age movie never stays home. In order to learn some of the world-shattering truths that I have this summer, I couldn’t have been in Tennessee and in my familiar environment or with my friends. I wouldn’t have been been listening. I would have continued to be sedated by the reassuring numbness of my selfish ambitions and fears masked by control. 

I have no idea what the future holds at all. But for the first time, I don’t mind, nor am I making endless lists and schemes to try to predict or control it. I’m okay being unsure because I know that that’s where the adventure truly lies: discomfort.

Some people go halfway across the world to discover who they are, I went to Texas.  

Don’t Call Me A Bitch.

(This post has been ruminating in my mind for a few weeks, but I finally feel like writing it out. To be honest, I was a little nervous about how it might be received, but now I don’t care.)

One of my passions (whatever that word even means) in life is both cultural and gender identity. It’s a constant personal struggle for me (mid-quarter life crisis, holla!), the reason I’m studying advertising, and a talking point that keeps coming up over and over again in sermons as of late.  It’s almost annoyingly relevant.

Recently, a slew of articles has been published criticizing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. For her policies? Or maybe for her recent trip to Bangladesh? Continue reading

Let’s All Be Cheerleaders.

I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving and will call upon the name of the Lord. Psalm 116:7

Why is being thankful considered a sacrifice?

(First off, that seems awfully dramatic, unknown psalmist who’s probably David.)

Gratitude is puzzling. It’s not a fruit of the spirit, yet  over and over throughout the Bible, we are basically commanded to be thankful. It goes against our “sinful nature,” according to Galatians 5, as jealousy, envy, and selfish ambition are correlations.

Perhaps it’s a sacrifice because it genuinely takes hard work to not be internally focused and selfish. For me, I struggled with depression on and off around a year ago and looking back, it was, in essence, like a pity party that I couldn’t leave. I lost sight of the joy and hope in my life because I was so caught up in myself and never took time to be grateful for the blessings in my life.

Life is difficult, but contentment & joy is a choice. Choosing happiness means being grateful for even the little simple things in your life, like Sonic happy hour, naps, encouraging text messages, perfect temperatures…whatever! (Also, apparently thankfulness leads to better health according to Wall Street Journal’s Health Journal. Double benefit!)

I guess what it boils down to is this: You can either be a critic or a cheerleader of life. I want to live in such a way that although it’s not easy, I sacrifice that complaining & selfish part of me to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:18) It’s totally worth the sacrifice.