'Black Panther' and Advocacy: How the Film Knocked Me Out of My Complacency (Spoiler Alert)

'Black Panther' and Advocacy: How the Film Knocked Me Out of My Complacency (Spoiler Alert)

“Is it really over?” I asked out loud as the credits after Black Panther rolled. Yes, I was one of those people. No, I was not mentally prepared to leave Wakanda.

For any reader who may not be familiar with Wakanda, it is a fictional place in the Marvel Universe (Non-Geek translation: the world of Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk and Spiderman). Wakanda is the only African country to be untouched by colonial influence. The film Black Panther follows King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and his rise to the throne of the isolated, technologically advanced African society.

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That Time Zac Efron & Zendaya Taught Us an Invaluable Lesson on Marriage

That Time Zac Efron & Zendaya Taught Us an Invaluable Lesson on Marriage

I went to go see The Greatest Showman in the movie theaters twice. For a homeschooling mom of four, with kids ranging from one to five, that is no small feat. But the foot-tapping original music, themes of American ingenuity and self-love, and timeless love stories drew me in. I was mostly mesmerized by the love story of Phillip Carlyle (Zac Efron) and Anne Wheeler (Zendaya).

It’s an old-school love story and isn’t bogged down by an overemphasis on sex and infatuation. There

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Our Family is Rethinking Gift Exchanges This Christmas--And Why You Should Too

Our Family is Rethinking Gift Exchanges This Christmas--And Why You Should Too

This Christmas, my husband and I have decided to forgo giving our kids Christmas presents. This is by no means a prescriptive for all families, but more of an exhortation for parents to be more attentive to the values we inadvertently pass on to our children. In a conversation with my friend and movie producer, Alyssa Plock, I answer the questions:

  • Could there be an alternative to the self-centered, materialistic culture we find ourselves in American Christianity? 
  • As parents, we have the privilege to shape the values of a generation that will outlive us. How will we steward this power?
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Taylor Swift's 'Reputation': Are sensuality and bitterness really the pillars of a strong woman?

Taylor Swift's 'Reputation': Are sensuality and bitterness really the pillars of a strong woman?

I've followed Taylor Swift’s career from the beginning. I’ve admired her flair for storytelling, her ability to transform the mundane details of everyday experience into profound life lessons. I’ve also admired her knack for creating an endless number of catchy melodies. Being a fellow millennial woman, I feel like I’ve gone through the awkward transition from insecure, adolescent teenager to self-assured woman right alongside her. Yet I can’t help but feel that each of our brands of womanhood are worlds apart.

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How I Stopped Letting Others' Opinions Dictate My Self-Worth

How I Stopped Letting Others' Opinions Dictate My Self-Worth

By now, most of you have probably read my article about Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman film released earlier this year. You might have witnessed my blog post’s positive reception by people whom I admire deeply, like Christian author Jefferson Bethke.

Of course, like any artist, it was refreshing to receive appreciation for work that I had poured my heart and soul into. But the high of all the positive reviews was short-lived. As the criticisms rolled in, my self-esteem plummeted. Misogynistic comments, defended by out-of-context Bible verses, inundated my comments section. Several blog posts directly rebutted mine, explaining how I read unwarranted biblical meaning into shallow pop culture or how I was purposefully leading people astray by promoting a heroine that was inspired by Greek mythology.

When I clicked the “Publish” button that day, I had no idea I would gain a platform in which strangers felt they had the right--scratch that, THE GOD-GIVEN DUTY--to scrutinize not just my choice of words, but also my deeper intentions. I let the criticisms, true or not, sink deep and infect my view of myself. Soon, I also began harboring some anger towards God.

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'Wonder Woman' Might Be the Most Accurate On-Screen Depiction of Biblical Womanhood, And Here's Why

'Wonder Woman' Might Be the Most Accurate On-Screen Depiction of Biblical Womanhood, And Here's Why

I recently watched Wonder Woman (starring Gal Gadot from the Fast and the Furious franchise), and it has haunted me ever since. Based on all the hype surrounding the film, I expected to feel empowered and inspired as a woman. That, I did.

I never expected, however, to be glued to my seat for over two hours, seeing one biblical truth after another being portrayed flawlessly on screen.

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How God Silenced My Inner Critic and Reminded Me That I Am Enough

How God Silenced My Inner Critic and Reminded Me That I Am Enough

It wasn’t just impossible; it was laughable. Jesus and his disciples had the task of feeding a crowd close to 20,000 people (5,000 men plus women and children). Jesus asked Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” Of course, Jesus is God, and he didn’t really need the answer. But He asked Philip anyway. And Philip had the audacity to talk back (most likely sarcastically) to the Creator, “reminding” Jesus that it would take more than half a year’s wages to fund such an endeavor. From there, Jesus didn’t even attempt to explain himself to Philip. He just showed him what He had up His sleeve.

During this season of transitioning from three to four kids I’ve felt like Philip: annoyed, maybe even angry at God that He would expect me to do something so impossible.  

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Advent and the 'French Horn Song'

Advent and the 'French Horn Song'

“Papa,” my four-year-old Jeremiah interrupts as he hops into his bed, “we can’t go to bed yet, we haven’t done Advent and listened to the ‘French Horn song’.”  Exhausted from a day's work, I was hoping to get by tonight without doing our typical family routine during the few weeks leading up to Christmas. However, Jeremiah has already associated this time of year with the hymn “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus”, otherwise known as the French Horn song in my household.

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3 Things I Learned from My Fourth Pregnancy

3 Things I Learned from My Fourth Pregnancy

It’s currently two days before my due date for Baby #4. This pregnancy has definitely been more of a whirlwind than all my past pregnancies, what, with three preschoolers (ages four, two and thirteen months) and with a new hat I put on this fall: homeschooling mom. 

I probably should have written a blog post about this earlier but writing has seemed a little less doable with new homeschooling tasks and simply staying afloat with household tasks with three very active and mobile kiddos. But I guess it’s for my own emotional and spiritual health that I sort all these thoughts out. And I just hope and pray that my scattered thoughts can somehow help you, my readers (especially my pregnant mom friends) out there who might be feeling something similar. 

Here are three important lessons that I learned during the course of my fourth pregnancy.

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Chronic Illness and Porn Addiction. But God.

Chronic Illness and Porn Addiction. But God.

I’ve dealt with two diseases for most of my life: multiple hereditary exostoses (MHE) and a porn addiction. To save you a Google search, here’s a quick explanation of MHE: I basically walk around with tumors all over my body, ready to throw at me the worst pain ever whenever they feel like they're having a bad day. And trust me, they have A LOT of bad days.

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'Reclaiming Femininity' Series: The Dangers of False Modesty

'Reclaiming Femininity' Series: The Dangers of False Modesty

American Christian culture can tend to be just as guilty as the secular culture when it comes to viewing women as nothing more than sexual objects. When we use the Christianese term “modesty” incorrectly, we can make it a dangerous concept.

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[PODCAST] Film Analysis of 'Risen': A Conversation about Doubt as a Faith-Builder

[PODCAST] Film Analysis of 'Risen': A Conversation about Doubt as a Faith-Builder

I recently chatted with my friend Alyssa, who is a passionate storyteller. Seeing God move in a powerful way in the church is one of her greatest desires. Alyssa hopes to one day use her passion for screenwriting, producing and editing to help rejuvenate the Christian Film industry.

In this film analysis, Alyssa and I discuss doubt building faith in Risenstarring Joseph Fiennes and Tom Felton. This conversation has spoilers, but hopefully you've already seen the movie. If not, it comes out on DVD May 24th. Pre-order here.

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A Non-Cheesy Christian Film Does Exist: Risen, Starring Joseph Fiennes and Tom Felton

A Non-Cheesy Christian Film Does Exist: Risen, Starring Joseph Fiennes and Tom Felton

For those of you who know me, you know I have an extremely low tolerance--allergy if you will—towards music and film stamped with the “Christian” title. Most Christian art is at best, bland, and at worst, insensitive in the way it glosses over the depth of human emotion.

With that said, I am about to unabashedly give due praise to the new film, Risen, starring Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in LoveLuther) and Tom Felton (Harry Potterfilms). Produced by Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures, it is a whodunit detective story in which a first-century Roman soldier Clavius (Fiennes) is assigned by Pontius Pilate (Peter Firth) to locate the missing body of the recently crucified Jesus Christ, or Yeshua, as he is referred to in the film (Cliff Curtis of AMC's Fear the Walking Dead). Sitting in the theater, I was waiting for the shoe to drop for a single cheesy / unrealistic moment. It never came.

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Rapper Lecrae Releases Surprise Mixtape 'Church Clothes 3', Features Secular Producer and Artists

Rapper Lecrae Releases Surprise Mixtape 'Church Clothes 3', Features Secular Producer and Artists

How does Rapper Lecrae manage to make time for all these projects? This morning, Lecrae surprised his fans with a new mixtape, 'Church Clothes 3' produced by S1 who has worked with the likes of Kanye West & Jay-Z. The project also features an eclectic mix of both "secular" hip hop artist and Christian artist collaborations, including E-40N'DambiPropagandaJohn GivezJGivensJackie Hill Perry and Lecrae's labelmate KB.

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Justin Bieber Shocks Us Again on 'The Voice' Finale

Justin Bieber Shocks Us Again on 'The Voice' Finale

The Biebs made headlines again recently--thankfully with some positive news. He surprised fans and haters alike with a surprisingly emotional stripped-down piano rendition of his EDM-drenched single 'Sorry' off his latest album Purpose. (He later transitioned into a full-blown performance with the original track and tons of dancers, but the acoustic intro is what I may or may not have played on repeat 10x in a row.)

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Steph Curry's Wife, Ayesha, Posts Controversial Tweet About Modesty

Steph Curry's Wife, Ayesha, Posts Controversial Tweet About Modesty

Named the 2015 NBA MVP, Steph Curry has unabashedly used his platform to share his Christian faith and draw others to God. This weekend, his wife, Ayesha Curry became a trending topic herself with what seemed like a harmless and common-sense tweet about modesty.

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An Interview with Dancer Mari Madrid | MariletteSanchez.com

An Interview with Dancer Mari Madrid | MariletteSanchez.com

Keone and Mari Madrid are a married dance duo who have reached millions around the world through their YouTube videos. Most recently, they released a dance video for Justin Bieber's "Love Yourself" as part of his "Purpose: The Movement" short film (released on Bieber's own VEVO channel). The video has been viewed 35,000,000+ times. You might have also seen them teaching workshops, So You Think You Can Dance, X-Factor, Dancing with the Stars, the Ellen Show, Good Morning America, and much more. I was honored to interview Mari, who is a strong woman of God with a beautiful heart. She has a passionate desire to use her craft to create beauty and draw others to God.

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