I Want to Be Famous?

I’m mad at Nickelodeon right now. 
As if The Fresh Beat Band, Dora‘s whiney-tail screaming, and the disrespectful dialogue from The Fairly OddParents weren’t enough, now I have new reasons to despise the Nickelodeon Marketing Department. 
I’m convinced those marketers are simultaneously brilliant and evil, as they plot their next big marketing campaigns:
“Should we play the promo 15 times during each commercial break?” 

“No. Let’s go for 25. That will really drive the parents bonkers and securely cement the product into the minds of the toddler-something crowd.”
Sadly, I don’t think I’m terribly off the mark. 
The latest to fall under the gaze of my scrutiny? Big Time Rush and their song, “Famous.” If you’ve watched Nick for 30 seconds within the last month or so, you’ve seen the song. 185 times. Or more.

But in case it has escaped you, I offer it here for you now. 

Now, my husband would say the musical quality (or lack thereof) alone disqualifies the band (if you can call it that) from recording songs. He chalks them up to wanna-bes who are programmed and manufactured. 
I don’t know. I’m sure they are. My ears are not quite that discerning. I just cringe that the bankrupt-of-values song lyrics are set to such a catchy tune that one must hear 185 times a day—which makes mimicking a snap for my five-year-olds. 
As I try to teach my kids other-centeredness, humility, and the benefits and blessing of servanthood, these guys are singing about how the object of life is to “see your name in lights.”  They say a perk of being famous is “cut[ting] to the front of the line” and “tak[ing] a free ride.” Being famous is the “American dream” and it means “that you’re the best.”

I really don’t expect Nickelodeon (or any media or culture outlet) to instill in my kids Christian values and ideals. I shouldn’t think they’d exercise restraint during a promotional campaign.

But I would hope (stupid of me, I know) that Nick would take its responsibility a bit more seriously. Especially when I don’t see much (if any) value in “being famous.” 

Let’s review the price of fame during the last year, shall we? Tiger Woods, Michael Jackson, Lindsey Lohan, the Gosselins. And those are just the ones off the top of my head.

Nick, you have a greater responsibility than just selling programming or records. Could you find something else to sing about? Something other than one of the main contributors (in my opinion) to celebrities’ broken relationships, addictions, and self-destruction?

No thanks, Big Time Rush. I don’t think I want to be famous.


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After the Nashville Flood

(This photo was taken on Monday, May 3, 2010. It’s Old Harding Pike, between Morton Mill RD and Poplar Creek RD. The golf course is behind the trees on the right; the red sign belongs to the Active Learning Center on the left. Our house is within walking distance but at a higher elevation.)

I’ve been quiet for a week or so now. My Internet has been down because my phone line was down because the Nashville flood shut down our city for a few days.

We didn’t receive any damage to our home. Other than a ruined digital camera (that got some water damage when taken in the rain to capture some flood photos), our belongings and lives were left untouched.

So grateful. So. Grateful.

And honestly, I’m still processing all that I’ve seen around me during the last week.

Devastation and tears. Generosity and love.

But there’s so much to say. I’m sure I’ll be posting on this in bits and pieces for months, as the thoughts come. As the words form.

A few points I’ve been pondering:

  • God is huge. Creator God—who formed the river and the hills and valleys—allowed peril and turmoil and material devastation, in just a few hours. Still, all that we have witnessed and endured is to be subservient to our salvation (see Heidelberg Catechism Question and Answer #1).

I’m so very glad that I worship, love, know, and am known by this God, rather than the opposite. His power is mighty. His ways are mysterious. His grace washes over us, just as the flood waters did a week ago.

  • God is so concerned with the detail of our lives that it simply astounds me. I’ve been listening and reading to all of the important considerations about mold and mildew removal. It can be deadly! I had no idea. But God did.

In Leviticus, he gives explicit instruction for mold, mildew, and disease removal from homes. How many times have I read that passage, glassy-eyed and yawning, thinking, Yea, yea, yea. Whatever? Yet hearing these news reports (and apparently how easy it is to not remove mold properly), I am impressed more and more at the tender compassion of God, that he would not want his children to get sick or die from disease caused by mold.

What are your initial insights after The Flood? What is God teaching you?

Disclosure: I am not a medical doctor. Any statements made on this blog about essential oil use are not meant to treat, diagnose, or cure any condition. My statements about essential oils are my opinion and are based upon my own experiences and research.

I occasionally feature affiliate links in my blog posts. Should you follow my link and make a purchase or join a membership website, I will be compensated for my referral.

I’m Fascinated by Jesse Ventura

My all-time favorite television show series is The X-Files. What can I say? I’m a sucker for conspiracy theories.

That’s why my ears perked up when I heard the title of Jesse Ventura’s new book, American Conspiracies. Ventura’s interview on The View today was absolutely fascinating. I’m not necessarily convinced his allegations are true, but I am getting my hands on a copy of his book as soon as possible. I can’t wait to read it! (Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate and receive a small commission from sales referred by me.)

Watch here as Ventura (who looks positively horrible, by the way—dude! do something with your hair!) discusses his theory of the Bush administration’s direct involvement with the events of 9/11.

If you have missed episodes of The View, don’t forget you can catch up online.

Still to come on the show this week:

Thursday—Elton John makes his first appearance on The View.
Friday—Kate Gosselin guest hosts once again.

What do you think about Ventura’s allegations? 
What do you think about these conspiracy theories? 

Disclosure: I am a participant in a Mom Central campaign for ABC Daytime and will receive a tote bag or other The View branded items to facilitate my review. I am an Amazon affiliate and receive a small commission from sales referred by me.

Top 10 Power Moms of 2009

This is why I have issues with “doing it all.”

Fitness company Power Plate has created a list of the Top 10 Power Moms of 2009. According to the article on Momlogic, these women were chosen because

in the last year they had babies, managed busy, successful careers and got back into incredible postnatal shape, extremely quickly.

Heidi Klum, Jennifer Garner, and Rebecca Romijn (who had twins!) all made the list.

I am offended—and jealous—at the same time.

Top 10 Power Moms of 2009
10. Kelly Rutherford
9. Kimora Lee Simmons
8. Adriana Lima
7. Molly Ringwald
6. Karolina Kurkova
5. Niki Taylor
4. Elisabeth Hasslebeck
3. Heidi Klum
2. Rebecca Romijn
1. Jennifer Garner

Your thoughts?

News Round-up for Week Ending November 27

Despite it being a holiday week, I’ve found a few stories in the news worthy of mention. I’m not sure that I have any real insightful commentary, but they are all interesting.

Ever since the popularity of the Nun Bun, I’ve been examining my food for resemblances to Jesus. If I could just find that one peanut butter sandwich with an image of a long-haired, bearded man, then I could sell it on eBay and make thousands of dollars.

photo: Grant Morris, staff photographer, Eagle Tribune

Hasn’t happened yet. But I read this week about a woman who found a picture of Jesus on the bottom of her iron. She feels blessed by this image on her appliance. She claims she will keep the iron in a safe spot and get a new iron. Mark my words: that iron will appear on eBay in the not-so-distant future.

I’m always intrigued by people who:

  1. “find” pictures of Jesus in their food or on the walls AND
  2. actually ascribe legitimate elements of faith to these so-called images.


The party crashing couple at the White House state dinner this week just amazes me. First, the level of incompetency by the Secret Service is astounding, as well as terrifying. But the party crashers? On the one hand, I must applaud their creativity and cunning.

The couple not only got past the Secret Service (when they were not on the guest list), but they also managed to greet the President in the receiving line and be photographed with the Vice-President.


Tonight on 20/20 real-life “vampires” were featured. I place real-life “vampires” in the same category as real-life “unicorns” or real-life “leprechauns.” These people are really weird, claiming they must “feed” in order to feel alive. Some “feed” on others’ creativity or energy, while some “feed” on human blood. That’s right. They drink the blood of other humans. And they showed it on 20/20. And it was gross and fascinating at the same time.

News Round-up

In Nashville, it is expected to dip below FREEZING tonight. It’s this time of year when I can’t remember when summer ended and when fall began. It blurs in my memory.

And Christmas comes next.


The Titans stink. They lost to the Patriots, 59-0. My husband–and most every one of my friends–are giving them h*ll. I understand their criticism. I just kind of feel sorry for them. I suppose it goes with my non-competitive nature. But, hey, when you are making that much money, you best live up to peoples’ expectations.

What’s wrong, Titans?


The Balloon boy saga from last week was all a hoax. I was stunned to read that headline. I watched the event unfold on Twitter: mothers, mainly, expressing concern and offering prayers for this boy’s safety. At one point, someone started making jokes and was quickly shot down. Then I saw a post from one mom who said her husband wasn’t concerned or sad at all, since he thought it was all staged. Boy, was he prophetic.

What’s wrong with people?


The Bernard kids have chosen their Halloween costumes. Su will be a candy corn witch; Sp will be a pumpkin; and Se will be Batman. Su and I went to Party City on Friday, and I was horrified to see all the evil, ghoul, and gore. I am terribly concerned about the type of person who would buy a $200 ginormous Satan hanging mobile thing or decorate their party with dismembered body parts. This is entertainment?

What’s wrong with people?

Deep Thoughts by Mary

I’m glad we live in a neighborhood with underground utility lines. And I don’t know why that makes me happy, but it does.


I don’t understand and have never understood those fake backgrounds for professional or school portraits. You know, the ones with the bridge over the stream or the fall foliage. I mean, do they think someone is going to look at that and think, “Oh. My precious MacKenzie is standing there in a grassy meadow with the sun setting behind her back”? C’mon. They look so fake. Thank you very much, but I’ll choose a solid blue background every time.


OK. In 2009, who needs to have a real, live human being give them turn-by-turn directions? Have you heard of a thing called the Internet? I mean, we have all sorts of mapping websites and GPS systems. Just give me a street address and I’m good to go. Yes, I know these things are not always reliable, so if you find yourself lost on your way to my house, THEN you can call. But, seriously, make a good faith effort first.


I have been a bit reflective this week as I’ve remembered Patrick Swayze’s role as Orry Main in North and South. Of course, I loved Dirty Dancing, but this is the role I most fondly associate with Patrick Swayze. This mini-series was a fixture of my high school experience in the mid-80s. My dad won our very first VCR (the enormous dinosaur that it was) in a sales contest at work. The first thing I ever recorded was North and South. Then, I proceeded to watch it over and over and over. Orry, George, Madeline, Brett, Ashton, Virgilia, Billy … oh, how I loved the saga! (If you’ve known me forever, you know that I’ve always loved historical fiction set around the Civil War. Gone With the Wind is my all-time favorite movie.) Farewell, Patrick and Orry. You will be remembered and missed.

Oh, No! That DID NOT Just Happen to Me!

Or …

I’ve finally arrived as a writer/theologian/political commentator since I’m now blackballed.

First, a little background for historical context:

About six years ago, I stumbled upon a small online/email group of women who follow Reformed theology. If you’re not familiar with it and want to know more, read this. Basically, the Presbyterian denominations are based upon it (as is the Presbyterian Church in America, of which I’ve been a member for fifteen years). Reformed tradition holds to the teachings of John Calvin. You may recognize the words, sovereignty of God, predestination, or election. We believe in all of those.

The Reformed denominations can cover a lot of ground and many different nuances. One of the things that most Reformed folk think they’re really good at is grace—and most are. Some, however, can be intolerably narrow-minded even towards their “own like-minded sisters and brothers.”

Anyway, eager for heavy-duty theological discussion, I signed onto this Reformed Women (RW) group. Sometimes interesting topics were discussed with prayer requests added every week. I said my two cents here and there and was always treated cordially. (I did become annoyed with repeated references to political viewpoints during the 2008 election but brushed it aside, just FYI.)

Soon the group expanded to Facebook (FB) and Twitter. I became a member of the group on FB and friended the main moderator and followed her on Twitter.

Well, everything was hunky-dory (you know, we exchanged Scripture, favorite recipes, and family photos) until …

I posted MY OPINION on MY FB PROFILE regarding a recent event that just happened to include George W. Bush.

(If you are reading this on Facebook, you can look back on my profile to read what I’m referencing.)

I saw this article about a Texas school district that refused to air President Obama’s speech to school children last week but are taking school children on school buses to hear President George W. Bush speak. I couldn’t believe the absurdity and hypocrisy. My finger hit the “share on Facebook” button so fast. The inconsistency and contradiction were ridiculous.

And so, with a CLICK, I posted it to my profile. For a split second, I thought, Hmmm. I bet someone will have something to say about this.

It wasn’t long before the moderator of the RW group was begging me to come forward to explain why I had a problem with this. My other friends quickly jumped in to voice their opinions, which matched my opinions exactly.

The RW moderator offended them by insinuating they had not researched the two situations and questioned their faith. Furthermore, she questioned the validity and sincerity of my faith, as well, and invited me to a private exchange via email or the RW group. (Upon reflection, I think she hoped to move the discussion onto her turf where she had more leverage in pummelling my opinions and had more “supporters.” It was obvious that she was outnumbered in the discussion on my profile.)

I quickly explained my position in a fair and bi-partisan manner on my public profile.

This was her response to me:

from Jacy Joypals

This saddens me but I thank you Mary. I think you know after our many years of association where I stand with this. I am praying for you.

And with that condescending remark, our “relationship” was severed.

Blackballed. Kicked out. Cast aside.

She de-friended and BLOCKED me from her FB friend list, removed me from the FB group and her Twitter feed, and removed my blog from the RW blog list. I’m sure she’s already kicked me out of the original email group, but that’s harder for me to figure out (and frankly, I’m tired of investigating this seventh-grade drama).

I see how meaningful “our many years of association” were to her. Hmmph.

The discussion continued with my friends’ (Christians and non-Christians; Reformed believers and others) getting my back. My sweet husband posted a theologically sound defense of my remarks and as one friend noted, “kicked a$$.”

My first reaction was shock. I knew we didn’t see eye-to-eye on some issues, but so what? I never dreamed in a million years that a leader of women’s ministry—who has been in leadership for a few decades—would be so petty and well, just downright mean.

Honestly, though, I’m pleased. Pleased that I have defended my beliefs no matter their unpopularity. I’m pleased that I—usually a real people-pleaser who wants EVERYONE to like her and think she’s smart—didn’t back down when confronted with the possibility of pissing someone off (though I really never dreamed she would go this far).

I am pleased that my writing has elicited such ire and action because I think that means I’m doing and saying something right. Right?

I’m terribly disappointed, though, too. I’m disappointed in her behavior. To cut off all ties with me based on my opinion of a rather insignificant matter is such an immature display. Kind of like a two-year-old’s throwing a tantrum when he or she doesn’t get his or her way.

I think she was gone before she could have seen how much she offended some of my friends, to whom she owes an apology. To judge someone’s faith based on what he or she says on a FB post is—from a logical standpoint—asinine and—from a spiritual standpoint—Pharisaical.

And what of the example she has set of Christianity in her interactions with me? How do her words and actions represent the gospel? Seriously.

I’m appalled that her “true colors” show her to be intolerant of her sister in Christ, judgmental, angry, rash, and legalistic. Love of Christ? Unity of the body? Peace and purity of the Church? Uh-hum. I *think* I’ve read a little something about those somewhere along the way.

No wonder people leave the Church, labeling us intolerant, opinionated hypocrites.

Sadly, no wonder.

Miley’s Pole Dance: It’s a Big Deal to this Mom

I found an old friend’s blog today and this post caught my attention. She’s defending Miley Cyrus’ recent “pole dance” on Nick’s Teen Choice Awards. Please read her post for yourself, but to sum it up, she thinks it was really no big deal and that Miley (as most child pop stars before her) must reinvent herself, embracing and expressing her sexuality, if she has any hope of staying power as a serious adult actress.

Ummm. What? Excuse me?

I don’t think so.

My thoughts follow, primarily as a response to Stephanie’s post but generally in regard to the expression of female sexuality in our culture.


We are HUGE Miley fans at our house. Every pencil, notebook, tee shirt, water bottle has Miley’s (Hannah’s) face on it. We have at least three Miley/Hannah dolls and all the accessories.

We have always loved Miley and Hannah and the show and her music. We have always felt she was a positive role model for our daughter. Should our daughter aspire to Miley’s goals, we would be proud (Britney? not so much. BRATZ dolls? Hate them. H-a-t-e them!).

And we STILL love Miley and her show and will STILL allow her into our home. And, actually, this “pole dance” is rather brief, HOWEVER…

I have a few problems with my friend’s sentiment in general: that of the “sexualization of Miley” and her defense of it.

My points:

1. Miley Cyrus is still a minor. She is 16 years old. If any other 16-year-old were involved in sexual acts (and I KNOW she wasn’t having sex on stage, but stay with my train of thought here…), it would be illegal. So, it’s illegal for a man to have sex with a 16-year-old, yet she is paraded around … for what? What are pole dancing, short shorts, wiggling hips for? To turn on men and appeal to their sexual nature. THIS is the very lesson we are trying to teach our 6-year-old regarding modesty. Modesty in dress and action, so, that–very basically–our daughter is not causing boys/men to lust after her. Even though we don’t use those words, that is the goal behind our parenting.

Now, I suppose if one is primarily concerned with maximizing her sex appeal all the time and at all costs and teaching the next generation of women to do the same, then I guess this point is moot.

Those are not my goals as a mother, though. I have HUGE issues with the over-sexualization of both men and women in our culture. In my opinion, it is the basis of all sorts of crimes and issues, including sex trafficking, rape/incest, high teen pregnancy/abortion rates, porn industry destroying marriages, domestic violence, eating disorders, and on and on.

This point would also touch on my feelings about the magazine picture she did last year, too:

2. No. Young girls don’t know what a pole dance is. No. They aren’t going (probably) to run out and aspire to become a stripper. They are, however, going to mimic the sexuality of Miley. My little girl is very sensitive to what she perceives as being beautiful, feminine, and attractive. She picks up on what the “style” is. If Miley wears it/does it, then it IS the thing to wear/do, in her opinion.

We all know that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It applies here, too.

And, yes, I know I am the parent. And, yes, I parent aggressively with goals for my daughter regarding her sexuality and future. I don’t abdicate that responsibility to anyone else, nor do I believe that Miley or any other celebrity could undo hours and hours of investing in my child.

That doesn’t change the fact that my kid has to live in this world. She will be affected by her environment. Adults are. Ever heard of advertising? The ONLY way to keep the influence of anything or any person away from my daughter is to throw the TV out the window, turn off the radio, and lock her up forever. I prefer to walk WITH her, teaching her as I go (read more below), which brings me to point #3…

3. At the end of the day, I think what Miley is allowed to do/become, is her and her parents’ business. BUT if she/her family/her company is going to step on my back going there, then she better DAMN well care how I feel about it. I hope she understands that if she continues down the sexuality road to preserve her visibility and her career (as Stephanie maintains she needs to do in order to stay viable as an actress), we will be turning off her show and throwing out our pencil cases. My money will not support her participation in the objectification of women, showcasing her sexuality so that my daughter can believe it is an appropriate model of behavior, and teaching my little boys that this is the kind of woman who is considered valuable.

It’s the age-old issue of athletes’ and pop stars’ responsibility as role-models vs. their individual expression/sexuality/”being themselves,” engaging in criminal behavior (Michael Vick?), etc. Hey. I don’t really care what you do. BUT if you have MADE YOUR LIVING getting where you are because of ME and MY KIDS, then I all of a sudden absolutely do care. I have a stake in this. And I think I deserve a voice.

4. And, yes, that dance was TOTALLY a nod at stripper/pole dancing. It was brief, yes, but undeniably exotic, in my opinion. And to make it even worse, the dance was at the Teen Choice Awards (hello? can you say audience members who are children!) and she was dancing on an ice cream cart. The vehicle itself is an icon of childhood, innocence, and frivolity. Was it there to distract from the real intent? Was it to “sanitize” it? By marrying the two—exotic sensuality and the innocence of childhood—the overall effect is a watered-down outcry of “what’s the big deal?” Mmmm. Mission accomplished?

I have no gullible or fearful notions about the culture in which my kids are growing up. I fully embrace the challenge to help them navigate their culture and all it throws at them. As a committed Christian mom, I think it’s better to give our kids the skills and tools (faith, biblical discernment) to deconstruct their culture and evaluate it based on God’s standard. So, for me, this isn’t about sheltering or poo-pooing Miley Cyrus or rock music or whatever: you-fill-in-the-blank.

In that regard, we examine and evaluate our culture with our kids (age-appropriate examples, of course), praying always to esteem sexuality expressed within the bonds of covenant marriage as God designed. Therefore, we will hold some up for positive example.

Unfortunately, others will fall into the opposite category.

I was just hoping Miley wouldn’t be one of those.

Welcome Guest Blogger, My Husband Chris!

My husband Chris is so insightful on matters of theology. I love that you can sense the passion in his writing. He posted these thoughts on his Facebook page. But since he doesn’t have a blog, I’ve stolen his post for a guest spot on mine. Enjoy!

During a recent family conversation, several topics were discussed such as – North Korea, the civil unrest in Iran, the economy – you know those upbeat topics we love to chat about at the dinner table! Anyway, the one theme that seems to rise to the top of these conversations is the “end times.” When is Jesus coming back? Is it soon? The common Evangelical sentiment is yes, these are indeed the “last days.” However, I believe we are not taking this question far enough. Yes it may be the end, not of the world, but of America as we know. We see government getting larger and larger, our politicians becoming more inept and corrupt, and our economy and energy being at the mercy of foreign nations.

So what does this mean? It means nothing more today than it did yesterday or the day before that. God is on His throne and Jesus is not waiting to see the nukes fly across the sky to “rapture” His Church. Believe it or not, the Church was thriving and growing across Asia almost 2,000 years before America was settled by the colonies. The early Church was also facing torture and persecution the likes of which the American Church has never seen in its proclamation of the Gospel. Did I say Gospel? I’m sorry – forgive me – I assumed the American church proclaims the same Gospel as our early church fathers. Well, we don’t do that so much here anymore. We proclaim prosperity, positive thinking, and how to better one’s self and throw in a couple of Biblical references and mention “God” enough to sell the message as “Christian” and call it “ministry” instead of commerce.

So what am I getting at here? The return of Jesus Christ is not dependent on the safety and security of America. The Church is thriving and growing in the underground churches of numerous other nations that are openly hostile and violent towards followers of Christ. American Christians often assume that America is somehow the lynchpin of God’s redemptive purposes or a Theocracy that is central to carrying out God’s will, neither of which is Biblically or historically sound. I believe it is because the role of the Church in America has become so watered down in attempts to be “relevant” that we have abdicated our role in the arts, science, medicine, economics, and government. Where the Church leaves a void, in comes the government and the fallen culture to fill in the gaps.

Can we accept that if America as we know it somehow ceased to be that Jesus Christ would still be sovereign and the Gospel would continue to go forth? How then should we live? We should live, work, and rest in the fact the we have been in the “last days” since Christ’s Ascension and have endured World Wars, a Great Depression, the Holocaust, and many other catastrophes in this world and the Church has remained. Jesus said the gates of Hell shall not prevail against His Church. Do we believe it? Can we persevere as American Christians and pray for our leaders to repent and lead with wisdom and integrity rather than stockpiling our homes for doomsday and watching the skies for His return? The race is not over so let’s not give up while the great cloud of witnesses spurs us onward. In always looking for “the end”, we Christians sincerely miss the work God has for us here and now.