The one about marriage

This is the fifth part of an ongoing series delving in Sarah Bessey’s book “Jesus Feminist”. The other entries can be found here.

Growing up one of the first times I ever thought about getting married was when I watched the Anne of Green Gables mini series. If you are unfamiliar with the story a quick overview is all that’s needed. The main character, Anne, meets a boy, Gilbert, in school and they move from sworn enemies, to best friends, to husband and wife over the course of the mini series. At four years old I determined that when I got married it would be to someone exactly like Gilbert Blythe. Someone who could challenge me, was kind and loyal, funny, and most of all loved me fiercely.

I found myself thinking about all this again while I read chapter five of Jesus Feminist. Bessey begins the chapter by talking about her own relationship with her husband. She likens it to a dance the two of them are in where each of them take turns leading the other, and where sometimes nobody leads at all; rather they just dance in place. I love this quote

Well, who is in charge here?

“We are.”

“Yes, but if push comes to shove, who is the leader?”

“We are.”

“But then who is the spiritual head of your home?”

“Only Jesus. Only ever our Jesus” (p. 73)

Reading that passage I felt a recognition. A recognition of the kind of marriage I want, and a recognition of the kind of marriage I’ve seen modeled by those closest to me. If you asked the younger version of myself who was the spiritual head of my household I probably would have been confused. What did that mean? The answer that eventually came out probably would have been “…..Jesus?” I would have been even more confused if you told me that the man was supposed to be the “head of his household.” That was DEFINITELY not what I saw modeled at home.

Let me clear some things up first. Yes, my father was outnumbered being the only man in a house full of women. Yes, on Sunday afternoons our television was not tuned to any type of sports. Yes, my dad watched every girly TV show, movie, and mini series my sister and I imposed on him. (Seriously he’s seen all of Downton Abbey and loves it). Yes, it was (and still is) hard for him to get a word in edgewise when my mother, sister, and I are all around.

BUT I have never thought that this means he was not the “leader of our house.” In fact, I put that phrase in quotes because I find it laughable. My dad was not the leader of our house. My mom was not the leader of our house. As a child I felt clearly, even if I couldn’t have put it into the words, that Jesus was the leader of our house. He helped my parents figure what was the best choice to make, and they helped Jena and me live those choices out. Period. End of discussion.

When I read the verses about wives submitting to their husbands I always felt a little uncomfortable. I knew that what some people counted as submission did not happen in my house, but I also believed the way my house was run was the best way it could be. It wasn’t until I got older, and honestly, began reading this book that I began to put to words what I’ve known deep in my bones my whole life. The verses written in the New Testament about wives submitting to their husbands are written to fall within the Greco-Roman household codes that existed as law at the time. That is why you see this listing function happen; slave to master, children to parents, wives to husbands etc. Bessey quotes theologians Carol A. Newsom and Sharon H. Ringe when she says

Peter and Paul worked within imperfect systems because “with Roman officials looking for every excuse to imprison Christians, any challenge would bring scrutiny and persecution for the early church.” The Apostles advocated this system, not because God had revealed it as the divine will for Christian homes, but because it was the only stable and respectable system anyone knew about at the time.” (p.76)

Bessey then writes my favorite line in the whole chapter. “Paul and Peter used the codes as metaphors or scaffolding because they were familiar and daily, not because they were prescriptive or ideal…Life in Christ is not meant to mirror life in Greco-Roman culture.” (p.76) Some might say that a line hierarchy from God to the husband to the wife is the ideal because after all in the Garden of Eden got created Eve as Adam’s “helper.” Bessey, with some help from authors Carolyn Custis James, and Rachel Held Evans reminds us that the phrase used to describe Eve in Genesis, ezer kenegdo is used in three different contexts throughout the Old Testament.

1) The creation of woman

2) When Israel applied for military aid

3) In reference to God as Israel’s helper for military purpose (it’s used 16 times in this context) (p. 78)

When we think of the God who helped Israel in battle do we think of him in terms the way some have us think of Eve as a “helper”? No! As Bessey says “Our God is more than that: he’s a strong helper, a warrior.” This is how God intended women to be not just in their marriages, but in every relationship they encounter in their lives. I love the quote from Biblical scholar Victor P. Hamilton Bessey uses.

“Thus the new creation will be neither a superior nor an inferior but an equal. The creation of this helper will form one-half of a polarity, and will be to man as the South Pole is to the North Pole. She will be his strongest ally in pursuing God’s purposes and his first roadblock when he veers off course.” 

I’m not finished the book so I can’t say this definitely yet but this may be my favorite chapter. It’s given voice to what I felt all along. That marriage is not a line down hierarchy, but rather a triangle with Jesus at the top point, and the husband and wife as equals on the bottom points. This was the model my parents showed me and the one I still see them put into the practice today. It’s the way my sister’s marriage functions. It’s the way every marriage I know and admire seems to function. And it’s the way I know my own will function someday.

What I love about this model is how it frees us from preconceived gender stereotypes. My dad didn’t need to be the tough man around the house telling us all what was what. If you’ve ever met my dad you know this is FAR from who he is. In fact nobody in our house walked around telling us what was what. My mom and dad prayed and asked God for direction. If God didn’t speak to both of them, they stayed still right where they were until he did. When I needed a battle fought for me, mom was the one I called. Not because my dad is weak, but because mom was much more suited for the role. When I needed  the knots brushed out of my hair dad was the one I called; he was MUCH more suited for that role. When I needed help in the kitchen dad was the one who offered the most help. Not because mom was incapable, but because dad loves to cook and mom cooks because she has to.

If a girl has a great father the cliche phrase is that she wants to marry a man just like him. In my case this is very true. I want to marry a man like my father because I see how much he not only respects my mother, but delights in her. He feels no compunction to assert his authority because he is secure in the man God made him to be. I won’t settle for anything less in the man that I marry.

What are your thoughts on wives submitting to their husbands? Single people how has this affected the way you think about marriage and relationships? Married people how do you deal with this idea in your own lives? Leave your thoughts in the comments!


The one about goals

The new year is in full swing. Almost a month in I find myself still thinking about what habits I want to cultivate or change in 2014. For me, making concrete resolutions is just a way to ensure failure. It puts too much pressure on my perfectionist side. If I can’t do something perfectly I loose the motivation to do it at all. This isn’t a good thing by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve discovered a way to combat it a bit. I make my goal much smaller and less concrete. So instead of saying I’m going have personal devotional time every morning for half an hour I’ve decided to make sure I begin my day with God in some way. That sometimes means a half hour in the Bible listening to worship music. But, on days where all I manage is a quick prayer and Bible verse I don’t feel badly; I’ve still hit my goal.

What’s really been on my mind is changing goals. There are a lot of reason we change our goals. They are unrealistic, we achieve it and realize we don’t want it, we realize before we reach it we don’t want it, and sometimes we change our goals because we think we have to. I’ve found myself contemplating how that last reason has affected my life. As a child the first thing I said I wanted to be when I grew up was a teacher. This pretty much only lasted through the first grade and I think I only said that because my own mother was a teacher and being a student I was surrounded by them all the time.

After teacher the next thing I wanted to be when I grew up was a writer. I was always scribbling stories down, imagining long drawn out plots for novels, and attempting to write plays. For years when someone asked “Janelle what do you want to be when you grow up?” The response was always “A writer.” I never thought about how to become a writer. I just wanted to be one.

Reality slapped me across the face when I was getting ready to go college. The reality slap had a name, and it was picking a major. All of sudden I realized there was no such major as “author”. Suddenly life stopped being about what I wanted to do and what I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to be an English major because I had no desire to teach after college. I didn’t want to be a journalism major because of all the types of writing, journalism was the one I enjoyed the least. Maybe I just became an Advertising and Public Relations major not because I had a passion for those subjects but because that was all that was left. Did I enjoy my classes? Yes. Did I feel passionate about what I was going to do? No. But that’s okay right? We don’t always feel passionate about our careers. I could be passionate about others things in my life; my church, my relationships, my hobbies. Like a pair of shoes that don’t quite fit over time I convinced myself I was totally comfortable in my choices. Sure I had some blisters on my feet but who didn’t get blisters. That’s part of wearing shoes sometimes. Right?

Post college seemed to continue the exercise of no over yes. Four years out and I still don’t really know what I want to do. I know lots of things I don’t want to do; I don’t want to work for a big advertising or PR firm, I don’t want to be a graphic designer. I don’t want to design websites. I don’t want to work in politics. I don’t want to teach. I don’t want to be a journalist.

I don’t want

I don’t want

I don’t want


What do I want? What do I love to do? The answer is simple.


I want to write. I love to write. I’ve always loved to write. Writing is easy even when it’s hard. I feel like I’m being the truest version of myself when I write. When did I decide that writing wasn’t enough? Was it when the world around me told me I had to be realistic? You can’t just write. You can write AND.

Write AND teach

Write AND be a graphic designer

Write AND be in advertising or PR

Write AND

These aren’t things people have said to me as much as they are things I’ve said to myself. I have to be a grown up. Writing is all well and good as a hobby but you can’t live that way. The amount of people who make a living just being a writer is infinitesimal in the grand scheme of things. Don’t be silly. Stop being a child. Grit your teeth and make it through. Work at a grown up job and who cares if the shoes don’t fit and give you blisters; you’ll get used to it.

I’m done with that. 2014 is the year that I stop living my life in a negative space. It’s the year I begin saying I love instead of I hate. Of saying I want instead of I don’t want. This is the year I’m honest to myself and those around me. So here it goes. Honesty

I want to write.

That’s all I’ve got so far. I want to write. I don’t know anything beyond that and you know what? I’m done trying to see beyond that. I’m going to live in this present space. I want to write and I’m going to figure out how to be the person 8 year old Janelle always knew she wanted to be. An author. Look out world. I’m coming.

The one about my bookshelf

Still easing myself back into the blogging game. I’ve got some really great ideas simmering away I’m just waiting for them to be fully…cooked? This metaphor got away from me. Scratch all that. The point is, I decided to do a low key entry today on my favorite subject. Books! About a month ago there was a tag floating around the blog and vlogosphere called the bookshelf tag. In it you were supposed to film your bookshelf and talk a little bit about some of the books you would find on it. So that is what I’ve done! I tried to keep it as short as possible and I’m pretty impressed I kept it under 15 minutes. I hope you enjoy the video and aren’t so distracted by how many times I say “um”. Also I know all of you won’t notice but I seriously cannot believe this is what my voice sounds like.  Below the video I have links to the specific books I mention. Hopefully you’ll find some new ones to read.Anyway, on to the video!

Annotated Pride and Prejudice                                                                                                   

The Making of Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen Made Me Do It

Georgette Heyer author page

Looking For Anne of Green Gables

Emily Trilogy (book one)

The Blue Castle (PS the cover design on this and the one I show in my video are HORRIBLE, but please do not judge the book by it’s terrible cover)

Harry, A History

Downton Abbey Script Book Season 1

The World of Downton Abbey


Lunch in Paris

The Great Awakening

Stuff Christians Like

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (book 1)

The Collected Letters of CS Lewis

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

Confessions of a Prairie Bitch

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America

The Wilder Life

I didn’t link to any of my childhood favorite books, but leave me a comment if there is a specific one you want a link to. Also in the comments recommend books I can add to my shelves!

The One about The Beatles (covers)

Hello and Happy New Year everyone!

I hope all my readers had a wonderful holiday. Mine was lovely and active. My sister and her family kept me very busy, so I took a little break from blogging. Now that I’m back I will definitely be jumping back into my study of Jesus Feminist (find all applicable entries here in case you need to catch up). As it’s been a few weeks since I exercised my writing muscle I thought I would ease back into blogging with a topic a little less deep. That topic being, a list of my favorite Beatles covers.

I’m not here to convince you to like The Beatles. I love them. They are my number one band. If I could only listen to one band for the rest of my life, it would be them. I go through stretches where I don’t listen to them as often but inevitably when I come back it’s like putting on a cozy sweater and sitting in front of a fire; homey and lovely. They aren’t just my favorite band, but they are an important band too. Even those who may not like their music have to admit that they changed the music scene forever when they hit it big. What I love about them is that if you are into pop and top 40 you can listen to their early stuff, but if you are into experimental rock and roll you can listen to their later stuff and really enjoy that as well. (Seriously, if all you know about The Beatles are their early albums give Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Abbey Road a listen.)

OK that is it. I promised I wouldn’t spend this entry convincing you to like The Beatles. Instead I wanted to write about my favorite covers of Beatles songs. The Beatles are one of the most covered bands ever. Seriously just go to YouTube and type in “Beatles’ covers” and you will get literally thousands of results. It can be hard to know which ones are the best, but don’t worry I have painstakingly listened to many over the years and I feel confident in the list I am about to present. So without further ado here is the list in no particular order.

Rufus Wainwright- “Across the Universe”: This is from the movie soundtrack to I Am Sam which is all Beatles covers. There are a few from this album on the list and this one made it for a good reason. Rufus’ voice is just so beautiful and haunting on this song. It isn’t too different from the original which could be a mark against it. I tend to like covers that walk the line between a note for note remake and barely sounding like the song it is covering. But this song made it because his voice is different enough from John Lennon’s to make it interesting.

Stevie Wonder- “We Can Work It Out”: This cover (and one other one down the line) are the reasons why I wrote this post. I love Stevie Wonder and he makes this song his own in the very best way possible. His harmonica solo is sick! I debated which YouTube video to post but decided on the one below for two reasons; how amazing Stevie Wonder sounds for how old he is and because Paul McCartney is in the audience enjoying every minute of the performance

Aimee Mann & Michael Penn- “Two of Us”: Another song from I Am Sam. This cover perfectly encapsulates what I felt when I heard the original. It’s light, breezy, and romantic. You will feel happy after listening to this cover I guarantee it.

Ben Folds-“Golden Slumbers”: This song originally appeared on Abbey Road and is the definition of leaving you wanting more. I wish this song was six minutes long. The cover is the same way. The way it builds is so beautiful. I am literally always upset when it ends because I wish the song was longer.

AJ Luca-“Oh Darling”: Full disclosure. This is my best friend. But even if she was not my best friend this song would be on the list. A few years back AJ participated in a show where a bunch of different artists preformed the entire Abbey Road album. AJ arranged this version herself and it rocks. Paul McCartney is not just the pop crooner who sings “Yesterday”. This song is loud and raucous and hearing a woman sing it makes it even more amazing. Enjoy!

Gavin Creel-“You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”: If you only listen to one cover please listen to this one. Seriously. I know it’s from an audience recording so the sound quality is not great. But you will not regret listening to this one. Gavin Creel is on of my Broadway crushes. What I love about him is his ability to sing Broadway style and then immediately cover a pop song and do them both flawlessly. The best part of this cover is when he comes back in after the instrumental. The note he hits puts shivers up my spine. He breaks my heart while singing this song, mostly because he’s gay and I’ll never get to date him. But also because it’s so beautiful. Since this is from an audience member filming skip to 1:20 for the actual song part. (and 4:01 for the note I’m talking about)

Tina Turner-“Get Back”: I named my first car Jo-Jo after this Beatles song. The image of Paul McCartney with his full beard on the roof of Apple Studios singing this song is imprinted on my mind every time I hear this song. But Tina’s version comes pretty close to blowing that visual out of the water. Seriously she eats this song for breakfast. Amazing. Also watch her back up dances because they are the 2nd best part of this video.

Al Green-“I Want to Hold Your Hand”: Talk about a soulful cover. Al Green sounds like he doesn’t just want to hold your hand while he’s singing this song. I love this cover because the feel of it is so different from the upbeat pop original.

AJ Luca-“In My Life”: Yup, the BFF made the list twice. Listen to this number and you’ll know why. It can be difficult for girls to cover The Beatles. The range can be too high or too low, and the ever present question of what to do with those gendered pronouns lurks in the background. (For the record I am of the opinion that if you are the opposite sex it is not a problem to change them when you sing.) AJ arranged both covers herself and they are wonderful. I love the little riff she does on the original guitar part from the very beginning.

Dana Fuchs-“Helter Skelter”: Charles Manson tried to ruin this song for the rest of America, but I will not let him. The original features Paul McCartney at his most intense rock wailing best. Seriously he kills this song. This cover appeared in the Julie Taymor movie Across the Universe. I could take or leave the movie, but I am obsessed with the music. This is another instance of a woman really getting to show her chops on an amazing song. Dana Fuchs goes all out!

The Dolls-“Dear Prudence”: In her third and final appearance on this list, AJ is with 3 of her closest friends; Ariel, Mary Anne, and Megan. They formed the acapella group The Dolls while in college together. Their cover of Adele’s “Rumor Has It” using kitchen utensils went viral a few years. They rock and I’m not just saying that because I work with 2 of them. Their version of Dear Prudence is dreamy like the original but is also a unique take on the song.

Jim Sturgess-“I’ve Just Seen A Face”: This is also from the movie Across The Universe. Although the movie wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever seen I did very much enjoy looking at Jim Sturgess and his cute face for 2 hours. He even looks Beatlesesque. His voice is wonderful too. I included this particular song because not only is it adorable but it showcases his voice. I’m also including a second link. His version of the song “Girl”. I didn’t include it on the countdown because it’s only a short version of the original. I’m including the video though so that you can swoon over how cute he is. Enjoy!

The aforementioned video for “Girl”. Seriously, how cute is he!

Evan Rachel Wood-“If I fell”: The last song on my list is also from Across The Universe. Evan Rachel Wood doesn’t have the best voice , but I picked this version because I love the direction it takes the song. If you listen to the original it’s more upbeat and light hearted. The Spanish sounding guitar part and Paul McCartney’s voice make the plea of the song seem not too serious. But slowed down to this ballad like version really highlights how sad the lyrics actually are. The Beatles: deeper than you thought!

So there you have it! My favorite Beatles covers. I hope you listened to them all. (If you didn’t you better at least have listened to one of AJ’s and Gavin Creel’s or I don’t know what I can say to you.) If you haven’t heard the originals but liked what you heard here I hope you’ll give The Beatles a try!

Do you have any covers of favorite songs that you like more than others? Leave them in the comments!