by Courtney Miller
It feels so exhilarating reading a stranger’s secret. Seeing the deepest, scariest parts of someone else’s life in raw form makes you feel privileged and guilty at the same time. That’s what Frank Warren does with his Post Secret books, collections of postcards people mail anonymously to mailbox 13345.
“PostSecret Confessions on Life, Death and God” is Warren’s latest book. The secrets inside all connect to life, death or god, and all the postcards were displayed in the “All Faiths Beautiful” exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum. People have been able to put to words and to express through art the questions (and answers) they are afraid of, the regrets they have, the pieces of themselves they hide and so much more.
Reading the thoughts other people need to share but can’t tell their most loved ones truly does make you feel those two things: guilty and privileged. The guilt is because you feel invasive, as if you had no right to know what you now do. As if you should be peeking through your hands instead of openly absorbing the material. But you feel privileged because they are reaching out and it seems like they are reaching out to you specifically. You become someone who can understand and someone who will find a way to relate to their secrets.
There’s no judgment when reading PostSecret. Maybe it’s because there are no faces or maybe because readers know they will be connecting to the writers, but there’s no need for critical analysis or any scrutiny at all. And when people mail their secrets, they are facing them without smoke and mirrors anyway. Head on. It’s a chance for recognition and redemption for some.
Warren says PostSecret began as dream and an art project. The art is a major part of what makes the books a success. The physical postcard allows the secret to take shape—abstractly, bluntly, personally. Some people scrawl marker over bought postcards. Others painstakingly design a piece that will embody their secret. Whatever the manner, it has heart. There’s extreme meaning behind each confession. It’s more than a little inspiring.
But sometimes, you get hit in the face hard with realization or sudden understanding of hardship and denial. About a third of the way through the book, I found a secret that barreled straight into me: “It’s not God who doesn’t care, it’s us.” It was written on a close up photo of two damaged pairs of shoes, what looked like the aftermath of a bomb. The PostSecret books remind us of how we love and hate and how we could do better. They show us the power a 28-cent postcard has to change someone’s life.
If you have a secret that you’ve never told anyone but you really want to get it out, mail it on a postcard to PostSecret, 13345 Copper Ridge Rd, Germantown, Maryland 20874.
The man behind the most famous dolphin in pop-culture is now trying to reverse the popularity of dolphins as entertainment and leads a fight to try to stop the dolphin cruelty and inhumanity that exists in Taiji, Japan. Dolphin trainers and dolphin brokers frequent the small fishing town of Taiji to buy and partake in the merciless dolphin barter.
In order to bring the issue of dolphin capture and slaughter to the forefront of society, former dolphin and “Flipper” trainer Ric O’Berry enlisted the assistance of director Louie Psihoyos, and together they collaborated on the documentary entitled “The Cove.” The Oceanic Preservation Society alongside dolphin, acoustic, and diving experts, goes beyond the “keep out” signs in a deadly cove tucked away in Taiji to illuminate the utter cruelty done to dolphins. “The Cove” convincingly presents dolphins as human equals, capable of humanly intelligence, thus showing the negative impacts of watching dolphins perform stressful routines for viewing pleasure.
The documentary incorporates suspenseful footage of late-night Taiji cove pilgrimages in an attempt to reveal what happens behind the barred premises. International dealings with the politics behind the dolphin issue continue to be debated, but together O’Berry and Psihoyos (and many other contributors) built “The Cove” in hopes of highlighting the dolphin issues in Taiji, Japan.
Images from www.thecovemovie.com
From Hogwarts to Brown, transferring schools isn’t the only thing Ballet Shoes, and played the voice of Princess Pea in Kate DiCamillo’s Tale of Despereaux, which was released in 2008. Now, you can see her in print ads for the high end fashion line, Burberry. is doing these days. In 2001 she started off her career as Hermoine, in the ever so popular Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Since then, she has starred in the next five movies in the Harry Potter series, acted in the television film
Emma Watson went from being the typical young teen wearing t-shirts and jeans, to a fashion icon. She has been on the cover of London Fashion week! No matter where she is or what she is doing, her outfits are stunning. On the Late Show with David Letterman Emma sported a creme-gold dress outlined in black with a unique necklace-type collar. At the in London, she was dressed in a white gown with sequins covering the chest. multiple times and is part of the Burberry campaign, which means modeling at
Her attire is always original and never too revealing. Emma Watson is never spotted wearing the same dress to an awards show as another celebrity. And she doesn’t wear trashy dresses, as do other celebrities close in age — plunging too deep at the chest and cut to short above the knees.
Emma Watson is a great fashion role model for teen girls. Many of her outfits are custom made, but her style can be created at recessionista price by highlighting certain elements of her style.
So what’s next for Emma Watson? According to a Teen Vogue interview, she is uncertain if she wants to continue her career as an actress. She fell in love and had a strong connection with the character Hermoine, but if she doesn’t feel that way about another character maybe she’ll become a doctor or an english teacher. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have Emma Watson teach your writing class?
by Emily Herring Dunn
So, I know it’s the beginning of December. Thanksgiving has just passed, Christmas trees are going up, and the holiday season is truly beginning. It’s my favorite time of year. From Halloween to New Years days are full with non-stop happy wishes and holiday cheer.
However, when you are spending the holidays with the new in-laws who were not expecting they’re 18 year old “baby” to be married off so young, then you may run in to some problems.
Let’s go back to the first holidays of mine and my husband’s married life. While we had, at this point, obviously told our parents that we were married and had gone through the ups and downs of tears, yelling, concern, lectures, and all that jazz, we were now venturing in to a new territory. We were venturing in to family traditions. The thing was, we were introducing each other in to different family traditions, so to speak.
Our first Thanksgiving was spent with Clark’s family. While typically Thanksgiving is a huge ordeal, lucky enough for me it wasn’t as large my first year in to it. I was also lucky enough to have my older sister go with me because her college was nearby enough and she was unable to fly home to California to be with her husband.
It began with his mom not liking pumpkin pie. I brought my own supplies to make the dish, unable to believe that this wasn’t a tradition of theirs. My sister promised to help me; not only with the pie, but with support.
My pie was the last thing allowed to be made. After all, both sets of Clark’s grandparents and his great uncle were over. There was wine, turkey, roast, deviled eggs, sweet potatoes, pecan pie—the whole works. However, I was determined to get a pumpkin pie made so my sister and I would have some taste of home.
I was finally allowed in the kitchen. I put it together while the oven was preheating, finished rapidly so I wouldn’t be in the way, put the pie together and put it in the oven. I set the timer and walked out of the kitchen to socialize and wait.
However many minutes later, while everyone had started eating and was enjoying the Thanksgiving vibe, the timer went off. I bounced out of my seat and went to the oven. However, opening it up cautiously with the ovenmit, I noticed something rather strange—the oven was COLD.
Much to my dismay, someone had turned it off. As I took the pie out of the oven, half cooked but still nearly entirely liquid in the middle, I heard a voice behind me. “Oh, my, I completely forgot your pie was in there and I turned off the oven. I thought I had turned it on.”
I turned to see my mother-in-law standing behind me. The same woman who had been sneaking in and out of the kitchen as I cooked and was even in the kitchen as I placed the pie in the oven. The same woman who had admitted to despising pumpkin pie. The woman who was the reason this family had never had pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.
I was livid. I went to Katie for comfort, feeling as though the action had been done to show me my new place in the family. Later, I even cried to Clark. He said to let it go, and prayed with me. Unfortunately my feelings are still hurt (yes, even now), but thank goodness I have Jesus Christ and the Lord above to help me with that! I did get past it, moved on with the day, and even got some apple cider made for everyone to enjoy! I just couldn’t be there on Thanksgiving and contribute nothing—even if my mother-in-law truly did not want my help.
Christmas was definitely a different ball game. At the beginning of my freshman year of college, only a month before my husband and I secretly wed, my parents moved to Germany thanks to the US Army. Having to have gone through all the steps of the whys and hows over the phone, it was much more difficult for Clark.
Luckily, my parents made it easy on him. Nervous and shaking, we got off the plane and readied ourselves to meet my mom, dad, and little sister, Molly. We were greeted with hugs, kisses, and questions of our flight. My dad even hugged Clark! It seemed too good to be true.
This is the part where I’m supposed to intersect and tell how you awful it got, right?
Well, Clark is a lucky man. Although there was the occasional, “I just wonder if you guys got married too young,” from my mother, and side tracked counseling sessions from my father (a minister), it truly was a great experience.
While it was much different for Clark only opening one present Christmas Eve and the rest Christmas morning, he was shocked to find that he had just as many gifts as me.
We attended church the night before (Christmas Eve) and were paraded in front of my dad’s new community. Taking part in the service by reading a scripture, Clark was red in the cheeks. Then with our typical night of wild rice soup, twice baked potatoes, and watching “Scrooge”, Clark was content.
Although he did consistently talk about what his family’s traditions were, he grew to love my family’s as well. He even insisted the year after that we buy “Scrooge” to watch it. He also insisted that we do the Advent Wreath, something that is a very fond tradition with my family.
I am not saying that my family was better than his. I am simply saying they had different ways of accepting us into their homes. I know it was difficult on them.
It was difficult for Clark’s mom to understand that, at home, I helped my mom cook and was always in charge of the pies. It was difficult for my parents to understand that Clark’s whole family gathered Christmas Eve to open presents.
It was hard for both of our parents to understand why we got married so young.
Still, our parents got through it, much like we did. With the love and support of family, I think anything and everything is possible.
That’s why this time of year is my favorite. It is full of friends, family, and ultimately love. What is that quote? “Love actually is all around.”
Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for all that we have, and Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. What time of year could be more beautiful than that?
While Clark and I are still figuring out how holidays are going to be spent each year, we always keep in mind our first holiday experiences. Perhaps it’s to recognize how much we have grown since then, and even how much our families have grown since then.
It’s all a process, but what we always have to remember, even if someone turns off the oven or reminds us that we got married “too young”, we just have to remember that “Love actually is all around.”
by Laura Kuhns
Sometimes what God calls us to do doesn’t make sense. Trust me, I know.
Have you ever felt God calling you to do something completely against the grain? You scratch your head, crease your forehead and ask God over and over if He’s sure He REALLY wants you to go through with this. I mean, if life is good as it is, why mess with it, right?
It should be so simple. But the fact of the matter is, we are only human and God, being the all-knowing Creator of the universe, sees more than we do and understands far better than we ever will.
It’s funny, because I always ask God to grow my faith and make me a more obedient servant of His. However, when He calls me to put my words into actions, I find myself pulling back and wondering why just being willing to obey is not enough.
But as I have said before, God does not call for mere willingness, He calls for unwavering, unquestioning obedience and faith—in every situation. I know, easier said than done.
Deuteronomy 12:28 says “Be careful to obey all these words that I command you, that it may go well with you and with your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God.”
Did you notice how it says to do what is good and right in the sight of the Lord your God?
Being humans and being girls, it is so easy to let ourselves get wrapped up in what other people think. I always find myself justifying what I am doing because my friends and family think it is right. But honestly, if I have to justify what I am doing with the opinions of other sinful, finite people, then something is wrong.
No exceptions, no “ifs, ands or buts”, if you have to use the voices of those around you to drown out the voice of the Holy Spirit, something needs to change—and fast.
No matter how much your friends love you, no matter how well your family may know you and no matter how many people think you are doing the right thing, they are not God and they do not see your life in its entirety. Nor do they understand what is the absolute best thing for you the way He does.
As women, though, we look for instant comfort. So we turn our ears and our eyes to those we love and admire most, allowing them to make decisions that should be left in the hands of God alone.
Let’s look at it this way: imagine you found a diamond among the dirt one day and instead of taking it to a jeweler who could cut, polish and set the diamond in a beautiful ring, you took it to the playground and placed it in the hands of a small child. Of course the child does not understand that what seems like a dirty rock to him is actually a precious gem, but how should he know? He is young and is easily contented with playing in the dirt. He has no more an idea of what to do with the diamond than you do! Of course the logical thing to do is take the diamond to the jeweler, not the child.
Do you realize that we are doing the same thing with our very lives which are much more precious than diamonds?
We are putting our lives in the hands of people who are also confused, hurt and searching for answers. When we place our lives in the hands of other people, we are depriving ourselves of a beautiful life full of adventure, excitement and God’s love and glory. Like the jeweler, God can take our lives and cut them, polish them and make them something wonderful and amazing to display His majesty.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of Godly people who hear the voice of God and are capable of giving you great advice. What I am trying to say, though, is that even the most Godly people make mistakes and while their advice is certainly valid, no human being should have the final say in your decisions. That is meant for God alone.
By turning to other people, we run the risk of missing what God is really doing in our lives. Those around us will look at our lives and, like the child at the playground, will only see the dirt and feel the hardness of this rock. We will convince ourselves that the situation, like the diamond, is dirty and therefore useless and, throwing it over our shoulder, we will pass by an incredible opportunity for God to teach us a valuable lesson.
The bottom line is this: do not let the voices of those around you keep you from hearing the voice of God.
I know it’s not easy, especially when the answer God gives you is not the answer you want to hear; or when He gives you no answer at all but instead calls you to a time of patience.
I know it is much easier to turn to those who are more than willing to give their opinions, but do not let their limited view of God’s work in your life determine the value of it.
Be careful not to let them convince that your “diamond in disguise” life is a mere clump of dirt. Trust that what God asks of you is for a good reason and that He will give you strength to do it. Do not dismiss God’s ability to turn your numerous sorrows and your times of disbelief into a beautiful life full of His glory and wisdom.
by Laura Kuhns
Oh how I hated that line as a kid. To my young mind, it seemed that everything good in life required patience—and it did.
Ask me for a minute and I gave you a second. Tell me to wait and I would sigh so loud you could have heard it in China. I grew so tired of waiting, but that was all I was doing. Waiting to get my braces off, waiting to grow up, waiting for summer vacation. Just waiting.Guess what. Things haven’t changed.
Just as patience was required for a bowl of ice cream, Christmas and my very own puppy (I’m still waiting on that one, in fact), it’s required now as well, but for different things.
It’s required for answers to important questions, a career instead of semester after semester of classes, and Mr. Right. But even after 20 years of practice, patience still does not come easily for me.
Do you ever find it ironic how we can pray for patience and yet, we are impatient about becoming patient? I find myself acting like a five-year-old kid who goes to bed Christmas Eve wishing for a certain toy and wakes up the next morning expecting to find it underneath the Christmas tree.
I can pray all I want with the most sincere words I have ever uttered and still I will not wake up the next morning with an extra boost of patience.
Why? Because learning to be patient is a conscious decision we must make and because patience requires performance.
You can claim you are learning to be patient all you want, but you must follow through when the trust test of your words comes along. It comes when you’re standing in line at the grocery store and the cashier has to call the manager for assistance, or when you find yourself locked in traffic and already five minutes late to that important meeting.
You know what I mean. You can say you have patience up, down, left and right all day long, but until you actually display it you’ve got nothing.
Now I am certainly not claiming to be a patient person.
Next time you’re sitting in traffic, check your rearview mirror—if the driver behind you looks irritated and keeps yelling at the cars in front of her, it’s probably me. What I AM saying, though, is that I have finally come to terms with the fact that patience takes time and a humble heart.
Being patient means understanding that what I want at that very moment is not as important as I believe it is.
Maybe instead of insisting that the cashier at the grocery store get his act together, I can encourage him with a smile. Or perhaps instead of demanding God to bring me Mr. Right so I can have “a ring by spring”, I can throw my energy and focus into blessing my fellow believers and those in the community surrounding me.
At any rate, having an all-about-me attitude is not going to bring me any closer to being patient. In fact, it will turn me into an ungrateful, bitter, disrespectful slave to sin before it will ever bring me one step closer to becoming a graceful, encouraging, humble daughter of the King.
So what to do?
Start with this: realize that your way is not the only way and that becoming a patient person is not an overnight miracle. Take a deep breath, count to ten and remind yourself that you are on the road to wearing a constant smile and a cheerful countenance.
Memorize Ecclesiastes 7:8 which says. “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.”
Repeat this verse to yourself whenever you’re quickly growing impatient and remember that your small amount of patience will someday bring a great reward.
Oh, and don’t forget to wave if the driver behind you starts gesturing wildly and yelling loudly at the drivers around her. Chances are it’s “yours truly” in need of a reminder to exercise my patience.
by Carissa Chang
All that glitters is not gold. Better safe than sorry. Honesty is the best policy.
There are all sorts of maxims and idioms that we hear over time, and James 2 is full of statements that make us stop and think.
There are lots of nuggets to take from chapter two. One of these major thoughts struck me as I read James 2:13: “Mercy triumphs over judgment!”
Judgment, as we see in verses 1-13, doesn’t work out well for those that want to avoid favoritism of people and their social and/or economic status. I sometimes wonder how often we judge others and act as a moral compass, when it’s really God’s job to do this.
There’s a presentation that I heard a professor give recently on his research and experiences with social justice, and one of his statements prodded me in a convicting but good way: that we should see the best in other people and the worst in ourselves.
How true this is, but how hard it can sometimes be!
When I try to help others, is there some selfish motivation tied to my “helping”? How much do I do things based on obligation versus true joy of assisting others?
As a kid, I remember cleaning around the house and waiting to have my mom say something nice to me about my sacrifice – only to realize later that she did way more for me than I ever did for her.
This isn’t to say that judgment doesn’t happen, because we are all critical in some way. What it does say is that we have the ultimate example of mercy shown to us from God as flawed, sinful human beings.
There’s also a difference between fair, good, righteous judgment and thoughtless, self-righteous, snap judgment. In fact, having judgment based on God’s standards can mean showing mercy by having compassion on others.
For me, the snap judgments that go off in my head, sort of like self-doubts, end up causing the most problems. I think of one ultimatum, but maybe I didn’t get the full context of what was happening.
If a friend seems to brush me off, then one of my first thoughts is, “OK, what’s up with her?” Or, sometimes, I direct back to myself: “OK, what’s wrong with me to make her act that way?”
In one of these instances, it turned out that my friend received sad news from her family that she needed time to process on her own. Unfortunately, my quick, shallow judgment meant that I interpreted her expression incorrectly without asking her why she was distracted or put off. Instead of immediately extending sympathy to her, I remained silent, which led to these questions volleying back and forth in my head.
The attitude of our hearts is significant, and our subsequent thoughts affect what comes out of our mouths and what actions we do.
Here’s another well-known adage that relates to this passage: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Hopefully and prayerfully, we’ll learn to love like God loves.
Questions to consider:
-In addition to the story in verses 2-4, what modern examples can you think of regarding favoritism?
-In what aspects of your life, small or big, does favoritism seem to pop up? Why? How can we work to remain humble in thought and action?
-How can this chapter help you to handle mercy and judgment in your life?
by Kelly Grenfell
During my last semester of college I went on a four-day excursion in downtown L.A. The opportunity was made possible by an on-campus ministry group supportive of students interested in learning more about the issues affecting the disenfranchised living within the urban city’s limits.
It was called L.A. 101 and was eye-opening to say the least. A combination of presentations and group discussion, allowed us to digest the more distressing parts of the four day experience which included information on sweatshops, sex trafficking, and immigration issues.
And yet, as difficult as it was to see first-hand, people affected by the injustice in this world, the trip was not without some hopeful potential to make things better. We were also introduced to ministries in the area that are constantly looking for more volunteers. One in particular that I would have liked to be a part of worked to support sweatshop employees by providing child care, and offering classes on life skills.
It tugged at my heart strings then and continues to do so everyday. I feel guilty that I can’t be volunteering all my time to this ministry. To know about an injustice, and also know that I am not currently doing anything about it, is a constant reminder to myself about how change actually happens. Talk is just talk. Change takes volunteering for the walk.
When you’re young, you’ll be pushed to make time for all sorts of activities. Study hard, get good grades, play sports, audition for a play, get your exercise, make friends with common interests, explore relationships, network with your professors, find an internship, get work experience for a solid resume, and if there’s some extra time in your week after all of that, volunteer for a cause you’re passionate about.
But the priorities are mixed up. Volunteerism evokes a sense of fulfillment and adds meaing to your life that you can’t find in other activities. It’s something you can be dedicated to and never become exhaustive from because you’re working on it at your own free will. There is no time card forcing you to say longer. Your time and energy will actually give you nothing in physical return. But still you’re different. You’re changed forever, and so are the people with whom you worked.
Even though I never got to volunteer for the ministry I fell in love with my last semsester of college, I’ve learned to make doing things for others a routine for what I need to do for myself. When you’re passionate about seeing change, making a change, and doing something that builds more than a good job application, it takes ambition. A pursuit to make time for the larger good.
I know it seems overwhelming sometimes with all of the injustices in the world to find and focus on one ministry and feel like you’re making a difference, but that’s when you have to remember why you started in the first place; change is about volunteering for the walk. Because until then, your walk is just talk.
by Kelly Grenfell
I know almost all the words to Akon and Kardinal Offishall’s “Dangerous” song, a majority of the dance moves to Miley Cyrus’ “Hoedown Throwdown,” and am even willing to give Leighton Meester a chance with her latest hit“Somebody to Love.” I’m eclectic. And I prefer to ignore my peers’ opinions when it comes to my musical taste.
But how do I justify my latest downloads when the artists are making negative tabloid headlines? In other words, should I care when my musical taste becomes a moral dilemma for worldly debate?
Two artists who frequent my Top 25 Most Played playlist include Chris Brown and Michael Jackson, whose private lives seem to be far from clandestine lately.
I remember I was a sophomore in college when Chris Brown’s “Run It” was topping charts and permeating the airwaves. The first, in a long line of singles released by the youth of yesterday, Brown’s vocal chords are incredible, and I’ll “forever” unite his lyrics with memories from my undergraduate days.
As for the King of Pop, I was in my high school dance class when I was first introduced to his musical talent in “Beat It.” However, it didn’t take long before I was the proud owner of his History: Past, Present, and Future album, and was taping every TV documentary on his life and family. I was obsessed, and continue to be because I believe his work remains untouchable.
But what about the legacy of Jackson’s personal life? Or what of Brown’s anger management issues and recent assault charges? Even after the numerous charitable donations, and hospital visitations, there still remains disturbing allegations. If these two performers were regular Joes, their behavior would hardly be dismissed once brought before the media spotlight. Scrutinized, criticized, and possibly even ruined in reputation; their lives would be the perfect demonstration of the “one bad decision” scale all too well.
But what about our beloved musical artists? Surely the “one bad decision” scale would outweigh their charisma as well? History would seem to show this just isn’t the case, and I am one of the fans guilty of making it a double standard.
As a consumer we compartmentalize. We have to in order to feel comfortable purchasing albums in public. It’s an unfortunate twist on the forgive and forget mentality. But then again, maybe our reasoning isn’t completely without merit. Maybe we’re too hard on the regular Joes of society, and should be giving them an opportunity for redemption like the musical talents we call inspiring. After all, we’re all human.
Perhaps its because artists are in the spotlight more, that the world expects them to be upholding a better demonstration of dignity already. Perhaps the double standard in their flawed decisions is in part created by the double standard we demand of their everyday actions to begin with. Perhaps in the end, we are more to blame then we realize for the vicious cycle of injustice we call reality.
Although personally my musical purchases will continue to remain separated from the media’s search for sensational headlines, I believe the moral question remains and needs to be resolved by individuals on a case-by-case basis. We should care about what we are listening to, because it speaks volumes about our character. Choose your downloads wisely, and remember your role and responsibility as a consumer.
by Arriel Ginter
Carrie is the notable shopaholic, who would skip a mortgage payment for a pair of Manalo Blahniks and who can blame her? Her mix-match expensive style seemed just right. Many viewers took her choices and ran with the inspirations, like the highly sought after Dior Extreme Sandal (pictured below) featured in the Sex and the City movie. After seeing the movie, I couldn’t wait to get home and research who made those gladiator heels!
The confidence and fun she brings to an outfit is amazing and made fans realize they could have that too. The love and excitement she has for clothing is contagious. She is responsible for so many trends, especially in the bold accessory department.
Time has progressed though and Sarah Jessica Parker has evolved as a fashion icon in her own right. Her red carpet looks and casual wear has left the fashion world in applause for her beautiful and elegant, but fabulous choices. Her red carpet gown for the 2009 Academy Awards left me personally speechless (see below).
She looked absolutely stunning; Haute Couture has a way of making one glow.
She has been the face for several fashion and beauty campaigns; companies know the power this woman and her endorsements have. No one can deny the beauty (inside and out), and glamour she brings as person and fashionista.