Negative thinking blinded me from seeing my friend as she really is
I’m not one to confront conflict with courage. So I was not looking forward to meeting with one of my church friends last week. It would be no ordinary get together. No cooking experiments or shopping—it was a meeting to figure out why we couldn’t get along.
The conflict began innocently enough with a careless word that led to a misunderstanding. Now more than 18 months later, this unresolved hurt has festered into an unhealed sore, and it has tainted every encounter between us.
Discerning a healthy approach to body issues
From the perfectly-sculpted and scantily-clad women smiling at us from the glossy covers of magazines to the consistent drone of news stories about America’s obesity epidemic, we live in a swirl of confusion about our bodies. Should we aim to be sexy, thin, and “perfect”? Or is trying to get fit a “worldly” goal, incompatible with the spiritual life of a God-focused Christian?
A new study by the American Psychological Association shows that 20- and 30somethings are the most stressed generation in America. Here’s how the church can help them cope.
A recent study revealed the youngest generations of adults in America are also the most stressed. In one sense, this is no big surprise, given the economic and social factors influencing quality of life and near-future prospects for Millennials—adults ages 18 to 29—and for Gen Xers, whose scores are virtually tied with those of their younger counterparts.
In January 2013, the unemployment rate for Millennials reached 13.1 percent. This compares to 7.9 percent overall. And among employed Millennials, many are underemployed, working jobs that don’t make full use of their college degrees, making it hard to pay off student debt.
On the other hand, in general, Millennials carry far less responsibility for others compared with adults in mid-life, who are more likely carrying large mortgages, raising kids and putting them through college and managing mature careers. And those who are well into the second half of life often find themselves caring for aging parents and facing their own health issues as they age. Older adults have plenty of reasons to stress out.
So is there something more behind all the stress on younger adults?
After diving into Scripture this fall, I’ve found there’s more to the zombie craze than what’s on TV—essentially, the truth of Christ's resurrection.
As a child, I always looked forward to Halloween. It was exciting to turn into a comic book super hero and receive a sweet reward for saying three words: Trick or Treat? Unfortunately, today the innocence of hunting for candy now competes with culture’s fascination with dark macabre.
I’m particularly intrigued by the growing “zombie craze.” Film critics promote innovators to the zombie film genre like 1968’s Night of the Living Dead, 2004’s Shaun of the Dead, and most recently, the AMC television series The Walking Dead.
CNN asked Max Brooks, author of World War Z, about the current fascination with zombies. Brooks explained that young people often use zombies to discuss global problems in a fun and exciting way. For example, it’s now possible to purchase a zombie survival kit, or to learn how to pack your own.
And according to Dr. Ali Khan at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, that’s important because, “If you are equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse, you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack.”
Considering Dr. Khan’s statement, I wondered, Do zombies have anything to do with our Christian faith?
How to respond when being a good Christian girl goes bad
It sounds like a plot from a bad soap opera: there’s the crazy ex-boyfriend who won’t move on, and the nice girl he claims he can’t live without. The phone calls I received over the course of the past six months didn’t concern a television show, however—they were reports from my family, and the girl was my younger sister, Lucy.
What I’m learning about simplicity and Target through my shopping fast
I worry about what others think. I don't like being inconvenienced. I may be addicted to “new” and “more.”
And I learned it all while fasting . . . from spending.
Facing the unique challenges in the death of a marriage
When her world fell apart, the rest of ours kept moving on.
There’s no funeral for the death of a marriage, no “obituary” in which Lori can publicly acknowledge all the pain she’d privately carried and dealt with for years in a difficult marriage, no “shower” of gifts to restock her home now that half of her possessions have left with her husband.
In a day, Lori’s life was redefined. She moved from wife to single-mom status. And now she’s supposed to just pick up and continue with life in this new, strange normal.
A coworker’s words recently led me to an unnerving discovery: I have a anxiety addiction. Here's what I--by God's grace--did about it.
Figuring out the mess of illness in the midst of God’s creative work on us
What Robertson failed to understand and express is really about the symphony of love that God created and designed for our relationships. The symphony of love begins with giggling children who mimic emotions by chanting, “I’ll love you forever.” Teenagers may steal a kiss at dusk. The symphony becomes stronger when adults ignore butterflies and hold hands before a minister and vow to love, honor, and be there for each other through thick and thin, sickness and health.
Is taking matters into our own hands the solution?
Apparently, a man in a village in India had been stalking and harassing a woman for three months. One day while she worked in a field, he attempted to assault her sexually. She fought back and sliced off his head with her sickle. And then she went to the local market covered in blood and walked through the vendors’ stalls with the man’s head hoisted high, vindicating her actions.
I’m not proud to admit that I smiled picturing her parading the man’s head like the Bruins raising the trophy after winning the Stanley Cup. I shouldn’t be smiling, I thought. I should be feeling bad for the headless man and his family, who are probably mourning deeply over his death.
Here’s a surprise: reality TV isn’t good for girls.
For anyone familiar with “reality” TV, this should come as no surprise. It is one of the great ironies of our age that one of the communication media least committed to truth is so committed to “reality.” So-called reality TV has become a staple of the media diet for Americans—and other places around the world. These shows began proliferating in the 1990s and exploded over the last decade. And with them have come a host of celebrities who are famous simply for being famous.
What if we viewed the entertainment industry as a mission field rather than a battle field?
Without the prayer support of people viewing the entertainment industry as a mission field, I eventually burned out, tired of the constant demands on me to compromise my beliefs and what I would or wouldn’t say, do, or show.
After I left that business, I met a producer, Karen Covell, who was just such a missionary. Karen told me about an organization (Hollywood Prayer Network) she was involved with that prays daily over the people working in that industry—not only for those far from Christ, but for other missionaries there. I was thrilled by her story. Someone else had felt the same burden I’d had.
Were they really as good as we think?
On a visit to the St. Louis Gateway Arch this summer, I bought a copy of a book I couldn’t help noticing in the gift shop: The Good Old Days—They Were Terrible! This book, written by Otto L. Bettmann and published in 1974, contains photographs and written descriptions of life in the “Gilded Age” in the United States, during the years 1870–1889. This was a post-Civil War period of rapid change, growth, and increasing wealth in this country, and an age for which we sometimes have a collective and nonsensical yearning.
How should we treat those who are gay?
My husband, Brad, met Norman when Brad spoke at an interfaith Easter service. Norman approached him and asked if he could talk. In a short time, Brad learned that Norman had been a practicing homosexual all his life and was now suffering from AIDS. In further conversations, Brad found out that Norman’s mother was a Christian and had been praying that he would come to Christ before he died. He did.
Never was a man more radically changed. From the outset, Norman told Brad that he didn’t know if he could change his orientation, but he knew he could change his behavior, and that he would from now on. My husband honored that and concentrated on helping him in that battle, which we all have, to control his sin nature.
Norman became a part of our family. He came to a Bible study in our home each week and sang the songs with the vigor of a man who knew he would soon be meeting the One he sang about. He soaked in Scripture as if it were his last drink of water before entering a long desert journey. Some people thought that we were foolish to have an advanced AIDS patient so near our young children, since at that time little was known about AIDS and fears were rampant. But the things our family learned through Norm’s hunger and enthusiasm for God ended up being tremendous. Our kids saw his love for God’s Word, his concern for other people, and his grace in the midst of suffering.
When I saw the much-hyped Tim Tebow ad during Sunday's Super Bowl, I was struck by two things:
1) It did not deserve its prelude of tremendous hype and controversy. (If you’re not familiar with this controversy, check out these articles from ABC News, The Washington Post, and The Huffington Post.) I can't imagine that anyone was offended by the ad itself. While I realize the pro-life message and the ad’s sponsor, Focus on the Family, can be controversial, the ad itself was not. In fact, without all the pregame hype, most people probably wouldn’t have even taken notice of it. It didn’t preach or advocate, and actually managed to say almost nothing but simply encouraged people to visit the Focus on the Family website for "The Tebow story." Seriously, what’s the big deal?
Magazine covers and Scripture say different things about starting over.
What does "starting over" really mean for Christians, and how does this vastly differ from how celebrity culture define it? We at Kyria want to share a great article on celebrity and biblical redemption which was posted on our sister site, Leadershipjournal.net. We hope you will share your thoughts with us below.
How the talk show queen let me down
A few weeks ago I watched an episode of Oprah called “Why Millions of Women Are Using Porn and Erotica.” The experts she included said they want to remove the stigma of women using and making pornography. Under the guise of women empowerment, Oprah encouraged women to take a fresh look at this often “shamed” industry, put aside their judgments, and find something that might sexually appeal to them.
I know a lot of you are not surprised. But as someone who actually does respect some—but not all—of what Oprah does, I was appalled. This is the cultural icon who built a school for girls in South Africa in 2007. She has helped other women in a myriad of ways: financially, emotionally, physically. And yet she’s telling us to watch and even make porn because it will empower us. Really, Oprah? That doesn’t seem a bit contradictory?
Is talking about Santa harmless fun?
I have a friend who loves the Santa Claus tradition at Christmas. She and her husband go to great lengths to convince their children that Santa Claus exists. They make prints in the snow (including on their roof), leave a little pile of coal dust in their living room, and consume the cookies and milk left for the jolly, old man.
Another friend refuses to have anything about Santa around the house. She feels that it takes away from the true message of Christmas and only confuses her kids.
So what’s right? Is Santa Claus harmless fun or in direct opposition to Christ? The debate could go on forever, but I have a few thoughts on the matter. Feel free to take them with a grain of salt and let me know what you think.
True love is not about losing oneself in another.
Golden-eyed vampires with bodies like marble and a (nearly) unquenchable thirst for blood.
Shape-shifting werewolves that prowl through the night.
Stuck in the middle: a love-struck 17-year-old girl.
Yes, I’m talking about the Twilight saga that’s taken teen-girl-dom (and some of their mothers) by storm.
Rather predictably, many Christians have been up in arms about Twilight since the first best-selling book was published in 2005. It is about vampires after all—those denizens of evil and death that have creeped out readers since Bram Stocker first wrote Dracula. Personally, I don’t see a problem with reading fiction about mythical creatures. But there is something very insidious in Twilight . . . something much more dangerous and threatening than werewolves and vampires.
The Twilight Saga is the story of teenage Bella and her romance with Edward Cullen—an almost 100-year-old vampire in the body of an eternal 17-year-old who goes to her high school. Bella falls for Edward and she falls hard. He’s magnetically attractive. He’s hauntingly mysterious. Thoughts of Edward begin to dominate every waking moment for Bella.
Despite the unusual circumstances, Bella’s story is a lot like that of many teenage girls—and that’s why gaggles of them are going gaga over the books and movies. Teen girls love love. I remember being a teenager—and teen love is a lot like that. The guy becomes the center of the girl’s world. Other interests fade in importance. Life becomes all about Mr. Right (or Mr. Vampire, in Bella’s case).
Is there more to pro-life than holding a sign?
This past Sunday afternoon as my husband and I were running errands, we passed a line of people holding signs along the side of the road.
The signs held such messages as: “Pray to end abortion”; “Lord, forgive our sins”; “Don’t kill unborn children.”
I agreed with every single sign. And I was impressed that every person holding a sign had a real sense of dignity and purpose. They all stood tall and silent. Each face carried deep conviction.
I applaud them for their commitment.
But my husband and I began to talk about that commitment.
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown)
Why do some people succeed far more than others?
While conventional wisdom points to an individual’s raw talent, intelligence, and ambition, author Malcolm Gladwell proposes an alternate theory. If we really want to understand how outliers—or superachievers—thrive, Gladwell says, we need to take a good look around them. At their family and cultural background. At where and even when they were born.
Last week we talked about a spread in the New York Times entitled “The Women’s Crusade.” Authors Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn share with us how women are more often the victims of poverty and the injustices that so often come with it: financial and sexual exploitation and reduced access to education and healthcare.
Now that we’ve steeped ourselves in the bad news, let’s talk about workable solutions, for this is truly an issue that breaks God’s heart. In Luke 4, we see Jesus approach the Synagogue and quote these words from Isaiah 61, showing that he is the fulfillment of God’s promises and commands: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come” (Luke 4:18–19, NLT). Those of us who call ourselves Christians must answer Jesus’ call while we can.
Last week I came across a 10-page spread in The New York Times entitled “The Women’s Crusade” written by two long-time journalists, Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. They write about how their experiences and travels have enlightened them not only to the deplorable state of gender inequality in the developing world, but to the huge potential that helping women can have to engender change in those countries. From the economy to overpopulation to terrorism, they argue, focusing on women and girls is the solution.
Because I know our readers are busy and already stretched pretty thin, there’s not much more I want to add to this spread other than to summarize it for those who weren’t planning on reading all 10 pages of it. My hope is that even a taste of the facts will spur more women on to active engagement in the movement to end poverty by investing in the world’s poorest women, especially through committed prayer, small entrepreneurial loans (microfinancing), and rights to education.
Welcome to the Kyria blog!
This blog is designed specifically for thoughtful, influential women who want more from their faith and who want to make a difference in the lives of others. We strongly feel God's claim on our lives and God's call to exercise influence in ministry to the body of Christ, primarily through the local church.
Kyria gets its name from a word in the original language of the Bible. In Greek it means "honored woman." The epistle of 2 John, for instance, is addressed to one such "kyria," translated there as "chosen lady." You may recognize the similarity of this word to "kyrie," which is the masculine form of the same word, usually translated "lord."
We chose this name because, just like the biblical Kyria, we feel it conveys something about the place of women in the life and ministry of the body of Christ, his church. We are chosen, called, and gifted for ministry.
Kyria blog will be filled with content on topics from spiritual formation to missional life to women's ministry to church leadership to hot topics. We'll cover current events, politics, culture, and media—anything that will help you reach out and disciple and serve others better.
Along with this blog, we're producing a free weekly enewsletter (you can sign up here), a weekly updated website, and if you become a member of Kyria ( for more info or to sign up click here), a monthly digital magazine, in which each issue will cover a specific spiritual discipline or spiritual issue. These resources not only will be useful for you in your faith and ministry, but will also offer you a community of women with the same callings, gifts, and passions so you can grow together and challenge, and support one another.
Ultimately, Kyria is a place to be encouraged, challenged, and motivated. We believe in the power of God to change lives and build the church, a powerful instrument of hope and redemption for the world. As women created in God's image, we've been chosen in Christ, called to influence.
If you believe as we do and are committed to making the most of the gifts God has given you, please join our conversations. As Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:11: "Let's encourage one another and build each other up."
Ever have one of those days where you open your closet, and there isn't one appropriate outfit to wear? That's been my experience every Sunday morning for the past month. Suddenly, I can't seem to find anything to wear to church. Skirts that I've worn for months or years now seem too short, too tight, too thin, or too flashy. Every top seems either to show too much skin, or have too much detail around the neckline, or just to fit me a little too nicely. And in my mind, my shoes are either too high, too strappy, or too revealing, what with my heel being exposed and all. I've also eschewed wearing anything with sequins, beading, lace, bows, ruffles, or elaborate stitching - because in my mind, these trims now scream, "Look at me! I'm excessive and flamboyant!"
In short, I'd concluded I didn't have any "appropriate" worship-wear. Just as I planned to run out and buy a whole new wardrobe, a thought hit me: What has happened that's made me now perceive my clothes as too showy and sexy?
For starters, my husband and I recently moved, and I'm now attending a new church. It's tough to be the new gal who's longing to fit in and be accepted. I used to attend a church in Los Angeles, full of 20- and 30-somethings who wore everything from upscale trends to t-shirts and flip-flops. In others words, a gal could blend in whether she came casual or dressy. My new home is in a conservative suburban area, and my new church consists largely of senior citizens. I've been observing other church members, trying to figure out the "rules" for attire here.
If you could pick one issue for the Christian church to represent, what would it be? Abortion or same-sex marriage? Environmental stewardship or poverty? Morality?
Some evangelicals are tossing this question around in light of the passing of the old guard: Jerry Falwell died last May, and many other prominent Christian leaders including Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, and Tim LaHaye have retired or handed over the reins of their ministries. Earlier this month, James Dobson resigned as board chairman of Focus on the Family.
The mere mention of these men elicits either a warm smile or a cold shoulder because they all were vocal on some issue. For good or bad, their words have shaped the image of the Christian church in America - both the way we see ourselves, and the way non-Christians view us. As we await new representatives who will become spokespeople for the church, one thing is highly probable: We'll identify these leaders as proponents or opponents of some issue.
Several months ago I wrote about the presidential elections, but wouldn't reveal the candidate I was backing. Now that we have a new president in office - and the fight is obviously over - I figure it's OK to tell you this: My guy didn't win.
I'm what you'd call one of the Republican "party faithful": I've done phone banks, canvassing, rallies, and fund-raisers. I've visited the RNC headquarters in Washington, D.C., and met several Republican leaders. Perhaps my most impressive GOP credential: I once shook hands with Mr. NRA, Charlton Heston. Yes, I'm a Republican through and through. And yet, I'm optimistic about our new commander-in-chief, who happens to be a member of the Democratic Party.
It saddens me that some Republicans are acting as if President Barack Obama's inauguration never happened. Salon.com writer Thomas F. Schaller noticed that the RNC still portrayed George W. Bush as president on its website even 10 days into the Obama administration.