Chipping Away

chippingYes, I have been slightly MIA during the month of November. It’s been a pretty crazy whirlwind of a month, and I am nearly in denial that December is just a week away. I continue to chip away at the ugly beast of sexual brokenness wherever I come in contact with it. This month, I asked another retailer (my local WalMart) to please consider putting magazines with overtly sexual covers (i.e. Cosmopolitan) back in the magazine section of the store instead of at every single checkout aisle.  The manager was extremely easy to talk to about it and completely agreed with me, saying he would bring it up to his superior (we’ll see what happens).

 

One of the most exciting things that happened this month was hearing back from my sons’ public school principal that he was giving clearance for me facilitating a 3rd/4th grade parent workshop about protecting our kids from pornography. I can’t tell you how pumped I am about this!  What an opportunity to build bridges with parents and talk honestly about the strongholds that families are up against. Praying God would use it as a catalyst for healing and protection for families and generations.

 

This month a sweet mom from Tacoma, WA reached out to me to ask for advice about fighting  a full-color electric billboard for a strip club (pics are super disturbing).  She used to be a teenager in the youth group we were leaders at 17 years ago, and she’s one determined woman.  Proud of her fighting spirit! I was able to contact someone I met in D.C. last May who has done a great deal in the state of Kansas to clean up communities. He gave great advice, so we’re moving forward… stay tuned!

 

Also, I was able to meet with two other freedom-fighters in my area who are working their own spheres in the anti-pornography movement. We’re talking strategy and connecting resources, which is exciting. Even looking at how to converge efforts for a national marketing campaign against pornography. Love the fire in these ladies!

 

I’ll close with a SHOUT OUT to my local Kroger store… after complaining about some inappropriate movies right next to the kids cartoons (as in literally, surrounded by cartoon DVDs)… they changed their “planogram” (retail talk for the schematic that determines how items are displayed) and when I went back a few days later, I didn’t see the inappropriate movie AT ALL, and all the kids movies were safely grouped together. Way to go, Kroger!

 

If you’re getting the impression that I complain A LOT to retailers and others about inappropriate stuff, you’re right on the money. And I’m not going to stop. To borrow a lyric from one of my favorite songs right now:

“I’m not meant to just stay quiet, I’m meant to be a lion; I’ll roar beyond a song with every moment that I’ve got.” (Francesca Battistelli / “He Knows My Name”)

 

Photo cred:  © wayne denman / flickr

Speaking Up

WRAP

The empty rack in this picture is where Cosmopolitan Magazine used to be at the Target closest to my house. To my astonishment, my complaint got it removed.

 

Just before hitting Target to help my kids spend some grade money, I had listened to a recorded Morality in Media Google hangout about standing up to fight sexual exploitation right in your community. One of the guests on the segment had specifically mentioned the fact that she has brought inappropriate magazines to the attention of store managers. I am no stranger to this concept, to be sure. But magazines are ALWAYS there, and I guess I just felt like this kind of complaint would fall on deaf ears. I mean, this is big business… Target and Cosmo. Continue reading…

Pray For Miriam

Miriam

Several months ago, I became aware of an 18-year-old college girl who was making headlines because she had chosen to pay for her tuition by making porn. Although known under an alter ego identity in the sex industry, her real name began to be used in interviews and articles… Miriam.

 

I’m not going to go into details about her story, but I can tell you that it grips me. Recent interviews show her conflict over the choices she’s made,  yet she continues deeper into the pit of the sex industry.

 

One thing I know for sure, God loves her unconditionally. He sees past her scars, both literal and figurative. He sees her brokenness and knows exactly where the healing is needed. No matter how dark her world becomes, His light will never stop shining the way out of the darkness.

 

I’ve been compelled to pray for Miriam, and I’m asking you to do the same.  For some reason, the Lord has prompted me to pray for her as my head hits the pillow at night. The quietness reminds me of how near the Lord is… and I ask Him to be near her as well.

 

Dear Heavenly Father,

Wherever Miriam is right now, I pray you would whisper your love to her. I pray that when her heart feels lonely or unsure of what’s ahead, the stillness of this night would leave her reaching for a love that’s real. Protect her tonight, body, mind and spirit. Reveal yourself to her – your affection and care that never go away. I pray that the rain of your Holy Spirit would soften the places of her heart that have become hardened against intimacy. She has her reasons, and you know them all. Send true believers across her path to show your unconditional love to her. Open her eyes to the truth and give her the courage to walk away from the lies of the sex industry. Show her the future you have designed for her. Nothing is impossible for you, God… draw her into your saving love.

In Jesus Name… Amen.

 

Join me in praying for Miriam, and challenge someone you know to do the same.

 

Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.”

 

When Models Took Over The World

SuzannePotts59213_4.jpg// handsonhips.blogspot.com

SuzannePotts59213_4.jpg// handsonhips.blogspot.com

When I was in college, digital photography hadn’t been invented yet. Photoshop was still in the imagination of it’s creator, Thomas Knoll, and mobile phones were owned by presidents, FBI agents, and only the technologically adept of the world’s wealthiest people. People only took pictures on occasion, unless they were photographers, and there was no way to instantly delete something you snapped.

I'm on the left, my sweet friend Shannon is on the right.

I’m on the left, my sweet friend Shannon is on the right.

 

Photos were very different back then. Here’s one I have of me and a friend in college. I’m not crazy about how I look in this photo, but I obviously kept it because it captured a fun visit with a sweet friend. Until today, this photo probably has only been seen by a handful of people… maybe (kinda doubt it) I took the initiative to show my friend after I had the film developed.  I honestly don’t remember. But maybe because I didn’t even consider who might see it, I was free to be more myself in the picture. I didn’t feel pressure to look cute, thin, pouty or seductive. When it was taken, there was no worry about posting it or who else might post it for the world to see.

 

Boy have times changed. Does anyone look NORMAL or CANDID anymore in photos? Seriously, I feel myself cringing as I happen upon the selfies from girls across various social media platforms. I see lots of sultry looks, taken at the most flattering angle. MOST FLATTERING. Even when the photo is taken by someone else… I’ve noticed women, especially young women, have this certain POSE down. Do you know it? Hands on hips, shoulders back, knee popped.

Photos: left - hercampus.com / right - barstoolsports.com

Photos: left – hercampus.com / right – barstoolsports.com

Honestly, I’ve done it, and you probably have too. I recently went to an event and was kind of disturbed about how many photos came home on my iPhone of me in some version of that pose. It actually made me feel pretty embarrassed and super vain. I posted some of them and was thankful that it was a silly event, so all in all, I didn’t feel too narcissistic. It was all in good fun.

 

But… You realize people don’t naturally stand that way unless there’s a camera, right? Ever. The hand on hip thing is to make your arms look skinnier, but nobody thinks about it unless photos are being taken. Somewhere between 2008-2014, the camera phones turned us all into posers… yes, posers. POSING like… um, models? Weird. When did models take over the world? Why are we trying to be like them? We’re NOT them. Why am I worried if my arms look skinny enough? Who cares? I’m not going to lose a Covergirl job over flabby arms. It does not affect anything other than my own sanity.

 

Here’s a curious piece of info for you. When I went online looking for that little diagram on the bottom of the page, using key words like “posing, photography, diagram,” MOST of the images pulled up were highly inappropriate, and a ton of them were teaching pornographic pose technique. Interesting. What’s the connection, I wondered? Pornography is objectification. In the porn industry, cameras are not capturing life’s special moments. They’re capturing body parts and completely unrealistic situations. Poses.

 

I’m not saying if your hand is on your hip and your knee is popped you’re acting inappropriately or objectifying yourself. I’m just saying this… let’s think about WHY we act the way we do. Let’s refuse to follow the cues of online photos and be led around by our insecurity. Just like Cobie Caillat inspired women to go without make-up and actually “like” themselves, let’s be inspired to take photos that capture REAL LIFE. Who cares about the most flattering angle? Who cares about impressing anyone? Take a picture to remember a beautiful moment or a beautiful you… just being you.

Not a being a model.

 

Picture 51

Smart Girl Turns Two!

turning2Two years ago, on Labor Day weekend, I announced a very special kind of “birth” in my life – my book, Smart Girl, Stupid World.  I had “labored” for ten years to bring it to the place where I could actually hold it in my hands, and it was totally worth it.

 

My book is 2 years old today!

 

Going the self-published route was something I felt the Lord leading me to do because of some personal challenges our family faced as the final stages of the manuscript were completed. It was a way to get the book out quickly without having to endure the process of waiting for someone to “pick me.” I don’t regret the decision to self-publish, even though it can feel like a long and thankless process to actually get people to BUY the book.

 

There are a few moments I have cherished about these last two years as reminders of why I wrote the book in the first place.

  • Teenagers I barely know from church catching me in the parking lot to tell me that it really spoke to what they have been going through.
  • One of my youth girls from 15 years ago who is now a youth pastor taking her students through the book and being able to Skype with them when they finished.
  • Emails from moms who have been desperate to connect with their daughters, words of gratitude and joy over the conversations it has unlocked.
  • Meeting at a coffee shop every week to walk a precious 20-something through the materials and discuss her questions.

 

So, what’s next? I still really believe in Smart Girl, and I will still pursue avenues to increase exposure for it, but I am also quite excited about the next book God has laid on my heart. I’m in the research phase for that, and I won’t even begin to put a timeline on the manuscript. I feel impressed to pursue a traditional publishing situation with my next book, so many things will look very different in book number two.

 

Thanks for coming on the journey with me! If you’re just dying to give the book a birthday gift, you could write a review on Amazon. Me personally, I’m going to honor this day by riding a few waterslides with my family!