The Superlatives {August 2014}

August 29, 2014

Lots of transition in August. School starts. Summer sort of ends, but the heat stays on a while longer here in Atlanta. Here's some favorites from the month.


Bible is already the Sunday School answer for "Favorite Book," so you know, I thought I'd kick it up a notch with my latest favorite in the category. The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name.

I have actually heard rave reviews of this one in the past, but I started reading it with Ella this week. It was so different than I expected. Given that I've grown up in church my whole life, it was a suprise. Here's a little quote for ya -

Now, some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn't do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn't mainly about you and what you should be doing. It's about God and what he has done.


I have seriously been searching quite some time for the option to schedule when my emails are sent out. Someone asked me why on earth I would ever need to do that and I quickly responded with socially acceptable answers. But the real reason is that sometimes I don't want to respond two seconds after someone emails... but I do what to keep my inbox practically empty. Enter Boomerang.


Well, it may not actually be the best, since our neighborhood also hosts an annual kickball tournament and an amazing Halloween party (that, give my love of costumes and candy, I help organize). But every year, we do a progressive dinner. And it's always a fun time to walk through the neighborhood together and eat amazing food all along the way.


You decide. Personally, I think the one one the right has an authenticity to it that is unbeatable.

Turned out the first day of school for Isaac was also his first day in shoes. (Some have suggested this is the reason for his distress.)


Heroes. I know. It's old. Naturally, Billy and I just discovered it. We've been binge-watching with glee. In fact, I heard myself say, "I think I am just a person who likes sci-fi." Really? Ah, well....


If you follow me on the socials, you already know that Billy took me on a fan tour of the Hunger Games Filming Sites from the second movie. It was quite the special birthday gift, and we had such a blast. President Snow's mansion. Archery Tag. District 12. The lake that was the Cornicopia. (I even got to stand on one of the pedestals!) I now fill equipped to offer my own bootleg tours, if you're interested.

Runner up for this category are these headphones I bought Gabriella. She was super stoked.


I shared reviews of Interrupted and Overrated this month. Both quality reads. I also started Americanah. It's the story of a Nigerian immigrant to the United States and talks about race, cultural identity, falling in love, and the immigrant experience. As you might imagine... I'm interested.


Why Does Kale Taste Like Dreams Deferred?
The Secret To Having a Marriage That Never Goes Stale
Justice & Discipleship & Worship
Hand It Over: Cultural Differences In Giving
10 Dating Customs From Around the World
Global Parenting Habits That Haven't Caught On in the US

What were you into this month?

Am I More In Love with the Idea of Immigration Reform than Actually Reforming Immigration?

August 28, 2014

Image Source: David Ludwig

Today I have an announcement and a confession. Let's do the fun one first! I'm excited to tell you I have another book to recommend - Overrated: Are We More in Love with the Idea of Changing the World Than Actually Changing the World?

Wow. What a subtitle right? I mean that right there was enough to get me interested in the thing. Here's a quick video about Eugene Cho's heart for the book.

You might think to yourself, "Is this book going to make me feel bad?" Because I wondered that a bit after I saw the video. But I've read enough by Eugene to trust him in the questions.

Because not everybody can pull off a provocative question like the one in the book's subtitle. But Eugene's style is super genuine and down-to-earth. He's a pastor first and foremost. It doesn't read like an indictment as much as an honest question to himself and all of us.

And quite frankly, I can use the discussion. You might guess this is the confession part.

As much as I care about immigration, I must admit that there are times I post on social media to "call your representative - it's super easy," and then... I don't. Do I forget? Or does my brain just somehow think tweeting was enough "social action" for one day? I'm embarrassed to recognize it's probably some of both.

Overrated is an accessible read, yet the words are not easy. He shares honest struggles and reminds me of values like simplicity, waiting (this is definitely not my forte... or Ella's), and depth in the pursuit of justice. I loved this post on Eugene's charge to dive deep into justice without becoming overwhelmed by all the injustices in the world.

Billy and I love college-aged folks, and we have worked on and off with them during our marriage. This is a book I will use with students in the future. It offers a Biblical foundation for a justice lifestyle and breaks it down in bite-sized chapters perfect for discussion.

"God's justice is renewing the world to where He would have intended it to be." 

I hope you'll check it out, too. I'd love to hear your thoughts. The book releases on September 1, but you can pre-order now and get the digital copy right away! (Seriously... I think you should.)

What's your confession? Have you ever cared more about the idea of changing the world than actually changing the world?

Full disclosure: I received a copy of Overrated to read and was encouraged to share about the book. But no one told me what to write. The words are all mine, my friends.  

Spanish with Ella [Video Interview]

August 26, 2014

I write a lot about raising our kids bilingual. It's been a mixture of jubilant fist pumping and dramatic declarations that it's never going to work. And mostly, it's been a process of constant recommitment.

So instead of my thoughts on the matter today, I decided to go straight to the source. I asked Ella a few questions about growing up bilingual. You'll hear me fail vocabulary quizzes and her share some garbled Spanglish. She even offers a bonus: your very own Spanish lesson. 

And if it couldn't get any better... she's wearing her "singer" costume. Naturally. Hope you enjoy the video!

(Note: If you're reading this via email or RSS, you may need to click here to watch the video.)

What have you heard kids say about being bilingual? Or what words were easiest for them to learn in more than one language?

Why I Don't Ask "Where Are You From?" (And Why You Shouldn't Either)

August 21, 2014

Knowing where someone is from gives you clues about them. For example, when you find out I'm from the South, you may think, "Oh that's why you ate grits every day as an after school snack... and you think it's totally normal!"

Yes. It's also why I grew up wearing tights... or panty hose for the more sophisticated among us. And finally, I give my Southern heritage for having a college minor in English while still trying to make a case for the phrase "must have could."

"Where are you from?"

This question is a common conversation starter, even among homogeneous groups. Place gives us basic information and a context for getting to know someone.

Oh, I've grown up in Cleveland my whole life.

Well, I was born in Hawaii, but moved to Salt Lake City when I was five, so that's where I say I'm really from.

I grew up in the military. I'm from everywhere and nowhere.

In cross-cultural situations, however, I've found that "Where are you from?" can be a loaded question. 

The person with the accent is tired of the question. And if they take pride in their American identity, it can feel like a slight against being fully accepted into the group.

The multiracial person may feel it's a "polite" attempt to ask "What are you?" which is almost always offensive. And I discovered undocumented immigrants shy away from this question, concerned the asker may be fishing for information about legal status.

Of course, I was never trying to offend anyone by asking "Where are you from?" But just because I didn't mean to be hurtful with my words doesn't make it any less true. When we come from different backgrounds, sometimes changing our language, even if we don't intend disrespect, is the most loving action we can take.

So now I never ask that question. Even when I really, really want to. Even when I'm super nosy. Even when I think I may have visited that person's country of origin, and I'd love to share that experience in common with them.

Nope. I wait for others to choose to tell me about their past on their own terms. I've had conversations with folks from diverse backgrounds about this very topic. Their responses encourage me to encourage you to take this question out of your ice breaker repertoire.

There a different question I ask now instead. This post is an excerpt from an E-guide I wrote entitled 7 Tips for Cross-Cultural Conversation. Download the guide to find out my new go-to question and other conversation starters to avoid. It's FREE when you subscribe to my blog. Sign up below! 

I promise not to spam you (I'm not even sure I know how to). This an email that includes new posts, which I write about twice a week. Once in a blue moon I may make an announcement. That's all!

Racism, Prayer, Tears, & Michael Brown

August 18, 2014

I have started and stopped so many posts after Michael Brown's death last week. Racism and the issues facing minority communities are so close to my heart. I feel compelled to say something.

But words have failed me. I can't seem to articulate my sadness and anger and frustration into a cohesive paragraph. I've had some nightmares on the subject. And I just generally feel overwhelmed.

So I've been trying prayer.

I feel like I have needed God and the church this week in ways I haven't felt in a long time. I need the body of believers to remind me how we live graciously in a world broken with violence, racism, hate, and hurt. Because sometimes I just want to curl up in a ball and cry.

So I did a little of that, too.

And I was listening to Pandora when the song "How He Loves Us" came on. I've always been a bit uncertain about this song. It's always struck me a bit self-involved and some versions include the phrase "sloppy wet kiss." Except you never know if the worship leader is going to use that version until it's too late. It's like the Lord's prayer... when the congregation mumbles because everyone's unsure if we're using "trespasses" or not.

Anyway, this song came on and I was just sitting and listening. Quiet and still. When my mind wandered to what I can only describe as a mental video montage.

Everyone was singing: Protestors. Police officers. Children crossing the border. Islamic extremists. Inmates on death row. College students. Images from the #IfTheyGunnedMeDown hashtag. My family.

How He loves us so.

So that's where I am this morning. Praying to a God who hates racism and injustice, and who loves us all so much I can't even comprehend it.

"Surely his salvation is near to them that fear him: that glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth have met each other: justice and peace have kissed." - Psalm 85:9-10

"God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God." - Matthew 5:9

Below are a couple links of thoughts on Ferguson that I want to share as well:

Black Bodies White Souls by Austin Channing Brown
Please Don't Ignore It. 5 Ways that Christians and Churches Must Engage Michael Brown's Death by Eugene Cho
I Raise My Hands: A Prayerful Response to Ferguson by Osheta Moore
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