I have to start by saying that this post contains material that may be unsuitable for the under 18 crowd.  So kids, check with your parents before reading further, ok?

It is everywhere.  The Shades of Grey erotic trilogy is everywhere.  With it’s innocuous looking cover and bestseller status printed above the title, it sits on the shelves at Costco and Target and Walgreens and begs women to pick up this book that everyone is reading.  And we women, we’re so weak when it comes to doing what everyone else is doing.  So we put it in our carts next to our children, who are opening bags of cheezits and begging for a new toy and we tell ourselves we’re just staying current.  Just keeping up with our friends.  And yet.
Ladies, let’s don’t lie to each other.  We’re too good a friends for that, aren’t we?  This series of books is pornography, plain and simple, and if you are telling yourself otherwise then consider that you might just be looking for a way to have it on your nightstand next to your Bible and not hate yourself for it.  Take it from me, who cut her literary teeth on Kathleen Woodiwiss and Jude Devereaux, who had a dear friend (you know who you are) call her on the carpet for it, that just because there’s no bunny on the cover doesn’t mean it isn’t pornography or that it won’t put images in our heads that will, I promise you, lead to fantasies that have absolutely nothing to do with your husband.  
I should preface by saying that I haven’t read them, won’t read them.  So everything I know about the Shades of Grey trilogy is heresay picked up from the internet and friends who were gutsy enough to talk to me about it.  Let me also say that I, who happen to have an active imagination and no lack of words, could never have imagined the horror of millions of readers being taken in by this drivel.  It’s filth masquerading as a New York Times Bestseller.  And if the tables were turned, if my husband walked in the door tonight with the latest issue of Playboy, I’d stand up, you can be sure.  I’d open my mouth.  But women are reading this in bed next to their husbands, are drinking it up like it’s water to a dying soul and it’s only different from Playboy in that it lacks pictures and has an epilogue.  So, thank you E.L. James for the introduction of streamlined, socially acceptable pornography you can read on the city bus and no one will blink an eye.  You are one savvy woman, marketing pornography as a novel, as a way to spice up your marriage. 
Ladies, this is the devil’s Kool-Aid.  Do not drink of it.  You are playing right into his hands.  Don’t tell me sex with your husband has never been better.  Don’t tell me he encourages you to read it-duh. Don’t tell me that it’s harmless fun, because the images we pour into ourselves will stay there and they will wreak havoc on our hearts and when we can’t stand them anymore, want to sweep them out, Jesus will be standing at the ready, but it’ll be so hard still.  The fun you are sowing now will give birth to a harvest of yuck that you will have to weed out.  And the more we allow ourselves to be desensitized to the evils of this world, the harder it is to see the place where our citizenship is, and pretty soon we can’t see the forest for the trees.  And we are lost.
Let me think of an example.  Ok, if you give your kid candy cigarettes, teach him how to hold them between his first two fingers, inhale, blow invisible smoke rings, there is, one could argue, a desensitizing going on toward real cigarettes.  If, on the other hand, you told your kids that they were not allowed to have candy cigarettes because the real thing is so deadly, so completely gross that we don’t even want to pretend, well, now you’re shutting the door on the gray area and drawing a line in the sand.  And I think maybe that is a big part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus, this constant drawing of lines in the sand.  This standing on one side and saying that we choose not to cross it.  Praying for the courage to stay on our side, knowing that to follow Jesus is to be set apart from the world.  In it, but not of it.  
Girls, this book is of the world.  It offers nothing of value.  If we were in a book club with Jesus, not only would be pee ourselves trying to figure out what to make for dessert, we would never suggest this book for next month’s read.   Never.  Discussing this book with Jesus would be as uncomfortable as watching The Reader with your dad.  Now, spit the vomit out of your mouth and decide which side of the line you’re going to be on.  And be loud about it, would you?  Because the Kingdom of God is not built on the thoughts of it’s citizens, but on the loud acts of immediate obedience that flow upstream and away from culture.  Be one of those people.  Please.  Be one who asks herself a hundred times a day if she’d be reading this, saying this, buying this, watching this if Jesus was sitting on her stained red couch in her family room.  And if you’ve already drunk the Kool-aid, spit it out.  Spit it out and then ask for the cleansing water of Jesus to soothe your throat and your soul.
And please, please sisters, don’t think I’m coming from a place of condemnation.  I’ve got my own yuck, but I’m trying to blow the whistle on the lullabye satan plays to get our morals to sleep.  Will you blow it with me?  Let’s start a conversation…
This is me being real.  


After a year spent hiding from Fear, this summer’s respite has been much needed.  I have done everything in my power to eradicate her presence from my life, clean her sloppy self out of the corners where she’s been squatting, and now rest in the trust arms of Father as I learn to accept that her presence might always be a part of the road I walk.  But that doesn’t mean I have to spend my time listening for her knock, now that I’ve banished her to the yard with Big Bad Rooster and lots of carcasses of things I probably shouldn’t have let the boys shoot.  I know she’s always there on my front doorstep, can see her through the glass.  Fear and her sister wife Anxiety, often with the monstrous child they share custody of in tow, Fear of Fear.  I have spent much of my adult life opening the door, thinking I had to.  But not anymore.  Now I sit and listen to them knock and hum hymns to myself until it drowns out their bid for entry.  And sometimes, when I forget that I don’t owe them anything, I rise and stand at the door, hand on knob, ready to let them enter, but Father sits on my couch, patting the cushion next and bids me chose to spend my time with Him instead.  And so I’ll sink down into the safety of His presence, whispering to myself that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth.  That none can stand at that name.  None.  Including me.  Including Fear.  Including her sister wife Anxiety.  Including even their child, Fear of Fear, that bastard.

There is always something of this world on our front doorstep begging entrance into our lives.  Addiction, Fear, Greed, Insecurity, more.  They fight for the greatest piece of our hearts.  The part we’re afraid to give Father because we think the cost will be dear.  And it will be.   But what is man to fear when he might lose the whole world but gain his very soul?  Gain it by letting Father reign there.  No more of that living in fear of Fear stuff.  My citizenship is not here, but There.  And I’m fighting for it, eye on the prize.  And refusing to open the door to the world waiting on my front steps, ugly world with it’s bells and whistles making me want to step out and jack it’s swag.  No more.
This is me being real.  And wondering what’s in your house that needs to be banished to the yard?  And how can I pray for you as you do so?


If you’re really lucky, the next time your sister and brother in law are here from Norway, your parents will decide to pack up all their city slickers and give them a taste of the country life.  If they decide this, ask if you can go to The Farm.  Here is what you’ll find there:

 This is how you’ll take your stuff to your tent.  No cars allowed.  Only wagons.
 Only wagons with little sisters riding on top.

 This is what your tent will look like.  This is glamping at it’s best.
 Here is the cupboard bed your son Peter will refer to as the covered bed all week since cupboard bed is not in his vernacular.  Your kids will bicker about who gets to sleep here since it’s so cozy and sweet and has doors on both sides.
 This is what your kitchen will look like.  There is no running water, but there is a pump that will allow you to brush your teeth and wash your dishes.  But only in cold water.  If you want hot water you’ll have to heat it on the wood burning stove.  I’ll show you that in a sec.
 There will be crates for all your stuff.  A whole wall of them separating the two bedrooms.  Six adults can sleep in one of these tents, but who wants to go glamping with six adults?  It’s only fun if at least half the people in your tent are kids.  Trust me on this.
 Susan comes with the farm.  She owns it, so she has to come with the farm.  She’ll lean on your ice box and tell you all about living there and how to work things like the pump and and coffee grinders and the goats.
 One of your jobs will be to spray the hogs off so they don’t get hot.  Hogs are stinky.  The only good hog is bacon.  And sausage.
 You’ll also be asked to walk the goats so they can find fresh greens to munch on.  You’ll laugh whenever they poop.  It never gets old, seeing an animal poop and then laughing about it.
 If you go to the farm, you’ll realize you should have taken camp chairs, but if you’re Dan, you’ll just remember that you work in construction, and you’ll turn a wheelbarrow into a nice place to have a gluten-free beer on a hot afternoon.
 You’ll gather under the trees with your whole family and watch kids run around and make their own fun, minus technology and you’ll realize that this is the good life.  Without iPads and iPods and iPhones and tv.  Just a bunch of people, some goats and a Keloid scar named Steve (but if you don’t have a  keloid scar named Steve, you can still come).
 When you get hungry, you can carry your baby sister into the organic gardens, plop yourself in the dirt and eat cherry tomatoes until the juice is running down your chin.
An hour later you can do it again since there are rows and rows.  You’ll never run out of tomatoes at the farm.
 At night there will be s’mores to roast over the fire pit.  The farm is especially cozy at night, with lanterns lit and swaying gently in the breeze.
This is the most perfect s’more ever made.  We’re sure of it.  But you can try to make your own perfect s’more if you go to the farm. Beat this one.  We dare you.  We double dog dare you.
 You’ll find the Honesty Store at the farm.  It has all the food and batteries and kindling you’ll need to glamp for a while.  You just have to write down what you’ve taken and settle up before you leave.  Each morning there will be fresh loaves of bread steaming on the counter.  You’ll grab a few, along with some of the farm’s eggs and the cheese their neighbor makes and the sausage their hog gives and you’ll make a yummy breakfast and think to yourself that every bite came from within a mile of where you are munching.
 Your Nana, if you have one, will score big with the grands if she pulls off buying 13 crank-them-yourself-no-batteries-needed flashlights from Ikea (where you should stop on your way to the farm, before you hit Trader Joes, but after you fuel up at Chipotle).
 You’ll pose with them before dispersing to play flashlight tag until your parents make you go to bed.
 In the morning, you can put some cereal in your tin cup and squeeze some organic milk from the Honesty Shop on top and no one cares if you spill a little because you’re only camping after all.  Nothing is precious when you’re camping.
 You’ll watch your uncle cook an entire bag of Jones Sausage on the wood burning stove outside.  You could have bought said sausage at the Honesty Shop, but that would have cost about a billion dollars, so you should definitely bring your own from Costco and save some money.

 You will channel your inner Caroline Ingalls by setting the water on to boil for coffee.  Later you will channel your inner Harriet Olson when you scold the kids for even stepping foot inside the Honesty Shop and thinking of charging that three dollar pop on the tab.  Then you’ll pat them on the head, call them Half Pint of Sweet Cider Half Drunk Up, and send them out to do the farm chores.
 You’ll spend mornings making coffee.  That’s it.  The whole morning spent grinding beans, boiling water and rinsing out the french press.  Making coffee is slow work on the farm.
 Kids will want to get back to their roots too (even though their roots are in your womb, not in Walnut Gove) and wash their clothes in the pan.  They’ll squirt a little Dr. Bronner’s soap in, swish things around, wring them out and hang em up to dry.  No matter where you are, water always makes it more fun.
 See what I mean?
 You can go out in the fields with your best Nana and find purple beans.  They’ll be so yummy that you’ll sit in your tent and eat every one with your mom, who will swear they are the best beans ever.
 You can go a few minutes away and be in an episode of Hoarders.  As you skirt your way around mountains of salvaged things, you’ll be delighted to find two hundred dollars worth of milk glass for twelve bucks, something your mom collects.  She’ll set them up on her table and make you all sigh with how magical it is.
 If you go to the farm, go in August so you can hit the Boone County Fair.  There will be barfy rides and barry food and lots of people watching.  The usual fair fare.
 You can ask your dad to take you on the Ferris Wheel while your mom does the tilt-a-whirl with your brother.  Then you can listen to her swear to never do it again for the rest of the afternoon while she wipes spit off her cheeks.
 Your Papa will have no such compunctions.  He’ll hop right on the craziest rides and say, O boy over and over.
 Except on this ride.  It goes so fast it makes your words get stuck in your mouth.
 There will be barns and barns and barns of animals.  And since your mom is a complete idiot and dressed you all in flip flops and since it will rain cats and dogs all afternoon, you’ll get even closer to farm life as the crap runs through your toes while you jump over puddles in the livestock barns.
 Back at the farm, you’ll be able to milk the goats.  Grab then squeeze.  Grab then squeeze.
 You might not love the goats as much as she did. Or maybe you will.
 Your second night will be pizzas fired in the farm’s special pizza oven.
 Susan will slide and slice.
 Farmer Dave will man the oven and shout for more paddles when he needs them.
 You can roll out your own dough.
 Then put all your toppings on.  Doesn’t matter how dirty your shirt is, at the farm, everyone is a pizza chef.  While waiting for your pizza to come out, you’ll mention to Farmer Susan how you saw a ripe pumpkin in the garden earlier while you were picking purple beans.
 She’ll send you to pick it since that’s the kind of woman she is.  Your Nana will take you and then you’ll proudly show the group what you’ve harvested.
 And then the next morning at breakfast, you’ll go one step better, collecting ingredients with your Aunt Molly (you’ve got to get one of those) and then cooking them into a huge frittata with the eggs you collected that morning.
 There will be chickens and a rabbit named Bandit.  There will be goats and huge bins of organic greens being washed by hand.  There will be bikes scattered around, just for you to ride all over the farm and hills to run down and wiffle ball games to be played.  There will be four hundred and thirty seven things to explore and do and collect on the farm.  But the best thing there will be the people you brought with you.  The best thing will be hours of finished sentences and chairs tipped back on two legs and coffee dregs in the bottom of enamel mugs.  The best thing ever.  I sure do hope you can go some time.

This is me being real.  Thankful for an adventurous Nana and Papa who decided that the best mystery trip for 25 people would have to be on the farm.


This is what it looks like when an aunt and an uncle who live in Norway and only come home every year or two step off an airplane for two weeks of unadulterated fun with family:

They will find a whole mob of large and small people ready to pounce on them and kiss them and listen to “oh my word, you’re so big” a million times as their aunt and uncle readjust to seeing them after so so long.  Then they will take off down the ramp, children hanging from their arms, as they head out into a night warmer than any night in beautiful Norway.  They will breath a sigh of relief as they pull into the cottage driveway and know that they are home.  Home.
And then…

 There will be pizzas made by the dads while the mom’s clean up prep dishes and finish sentences for the first time in forever.  They will be gobbled up quickly by children so hungry they resemble a pack of hungry wolves, still just long enough for a prayer and then digging in, famished from hours of tennis and trampoline jumping and conquering the waves.

 There will be time spent on the beach, all dressed alike, trying to get a few shots in before the storm rolls across the lake and puts an end to our yard camping plans.  There will be this silly cousin who will be her usual stinker self and need to be put back in the pictures and told to stand still, dang it, we are working against the clock.  Who invited her anyway?

 There will be this amazing nana and this amazing papa who will stand proudly with their thirteen grands and will think, life just doesn’t get any better than this.  Seriously.  It doesn’t.  Their 10 adult children will agree.  It doesn’t.

 Is there anything better in the world than sisters?  Yes, sisters with chocolate sitting on beach chairs finishing sentences while children romp in the sand.

Maybe this.  25 of the people I love most in this world, wearing each others clothes, not complaining about collars since they’ve been warned for days it was coming and with pizza breath, standing together on this beach they love at the end of the first week of together.
And now we’re off to this place, where we will pretend to be organic farmers while living in luxurious tents and learning how to milk goats while keeping Lucy and Viv from doing dastardly things to the garden.  Glamping with the family with Trader Joes and Ikea thrown in for good measure.  Doesn’t get any better than this.
This is me being real.  And very nearly overwhelmed by how much I’m blessed by this family and a million other large and small gifts I’ve been given.  So blessed.