“I’m so very ‘umble” – Uriah Heep, Jennifer Lawrence, and You

220px-jennifer_lawrence_sdcc_2015_x-menI happened across an interview with Jennifer Lawrence the other day where she was asked, “Do you believe there’s an afterlife?”

 

Her answer was, “No.  That’s a reaction to innate narcissism.  To think that we don’t have to cease to exist.”

This year I’ve done a lot of thinking about what I’m going to call the Uriah Heep Mentality.

Uriah Heep is one of my favorite, creepy villains of all time.  Charles Dickens created him to be the thorn in David’s side in David Copperfield.

[Heep’s face] was quite as cadaverous as it had looked in the window, though in the grain of it there was that tinge of red which is sometimes to be observed in the skins

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Artwork by Chris Riddell

of red-haired people. It belonged to a red-haired person—a youth of fifteen, as I take it now, but looking much older—whose hair was cropped as close as the closest stubble; who had hardly any eyebrows, and no eyelashes, and eyes of a red-brown, so unsheltered and unshaded, that I remember wondering how he went to sleep. He was high-shouldered and bony; dressed in decent black, with a white wisp of a neckcloth; buttoned up to the throat; and had a long, lank, skeleton hand, which particularly attracted my attention, as he stood at the pony’s head, rubbing his chin with it, and looking up at us in the chaise.

His hands are always wet, cold, and clammy, like a dead fish, and his catch phrase is calling himself “humble” (or ‘umble) over and over again while being a sycophant to everyone around him.

He’s the type of guy you might feel sorry for except that he overdoes the false humility, and later you find out he’s been sneaking around behind everyone’s back to make sure they come to ruin so that he can own them all in the end.  His hypocrisy is deceptively sneaky and takes a suspicious David and a wise Mr. Micawber to figure out the years of ingratiation, lies, and manipulation that went into his scheme.

The sad thing is, I’ve met Christians with Uriah Heep Mentality.

Christians, who, like Jennifer Lawrence pretend to be “so very ‘umble” by saying that God doesn’t love them, God doesn’t want them, they’re worthless, they’re wretched sinners, and they deserve to be trampled upon and have nothing good happen to them their entire lives.  Maybe you don’t realize it in the beginning, but you realize it was false humility all along when they show you how they really think.

These Christians can also find themselves the most sensitive at the slightest perceived “attack.”  Because how dare others criticize when I am trying so hard and am doing so much better than everyone else. The obsequiousness is often sneaky arrogance disguised under a clammy, skeleton costume.

Don’t get me wrong.  Yes, we are wretched sinners.  Yes, we do nothing to earn our salvation.  Yes, we deserve nothing but hell. Yes, we should bow on our faces before a great and powerful God.  (1 Tim. 1:15, Rom. 6:23, 14:11)

But God.

He does not choose to leave us there.  Uriah Heep Mentality forgets all the other verses that talk about us being inheritors with Christ Jesus, a little lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor, that the Lord delights over us with singing, that we are bought and redeemed with all of His blood, and that heaven and the kingdom is our inheritance!  (Rom. 8:14-17, Heb. 2:7-9, Zeph. 3:17, Is. 44:22, Luke 12:32)

Does the Christ who died to pay for us want us to go around wringing our hands calling curses down upon ourselves and feeling like bruised victims waiting to assume the worst about everyone and everything because crushing ourselves makes us feel better?  Maybe this isn’t your motivation, or maybe when you peel back the skeleton costume, you reveal that it is.  ❤

It’s actually really super ‘umbling to stop and say, I’m loved by the King of Kings.  I’m His princess or prince.  I am made in His image, the greatest part of His creation, His masterpiece.  Jesus calls me His brother or sister and His friend.  I have His same power in me. Nothing can stop me from receiving God’s love.”  (Deut. 10:17, Ps. 86:5, 36:7, John 15:9-17,  Rom. 8:37-39, Gen. 1:27, Eph. 1:19-20, 2:10)

Do those things make you squirm?  They shouldn’t.  They’re taken directly from Scripture.  See all those verses above.

Why do they make you squirm?  Is it because you’ve been bullied and rejected and downtrodden all your life, and you’re afraid to believe in the Sovereign God’s love for you?  Can I recommend Because He Loves Me by Elyse Fitzpatrick for that, just to sit and seep in the beauty and boosting love of the gospel?  He would have died just for YOU, Christian.  If you had been the only human being on earth. ❤ (Matthew 18:12)

Or is it because you actually believe in a works religion, where you have to keep maiming yourself and brow-beating yourself until you’re “holy enough” that the Lord God will accept you, and it pains you to see other Christians happy and rejoicing in their salvation and inheritance and greatness in Christ? (1 Kings 18:27-29, Phil. 1:14-17, Mt. 23:1-4, Lk 18:10-14, Rom. 14, 

Believe.  Doing comes after.  Believe that it’s nothing of you.  That you could never follow all the rules.  That you could never be perfect.  That you have been lifted up out of that mud that you like to throw yourself into.  That your sins are forgiven, and God doesn’t even see them any more.  That Christ’s blood is all He sees, and you are hidden in Christ.  That He will sanctify those stubborn sins step by step and you don’t have to go on hating yourself to make Him like you better.

Christ would love you even if your sins didn’t change.  

(Phil. 1:6, John 10:28-29, Deut 7:7-10, Is. 54:4-8, Hos 14:4-7, 1 Tim. 1:15-16)

Does that feel like heresy?

It’s not.  Scripture says so.  And if His love was dependent on your sins, then you would have some control over your own salvation.  The life on earth is but a breath.  You are saved – you have eternity in heaven.  His love is everlasting, and it doesn’t disappear in this life-breath when you fail. (Jer. 31:3, Ps. 144:4)

And His love doesn’t lessen AFTER salvation, when you keep messing up.  If He loves you when you did nothing to deserve it, why should you somehow change it like a lever later based on the speed or efficiency of your sanctification?

You should want to quit sinning just because you love Him so much that you want to obey Him with all your heart, not because you think you can force your own holiness and bring yourself into better standing with God.  We are supposed to strive for holiness, but we don’t do that on our own.  We do that leaning on and resting in and being with and enjoying God.  Otherwise, we fail. (John 14:15, Mt. 11:28-29, Ps. 37:4, Eph. 1:19-20, Rom. 8:11, Gal. 5:16)

It’s arrogance to assume you can control any part of Him, and that you can affect the Almighty God’s love for you – that you can control it with your own works and life.  His love is steady like the sun, and its existence nothing to do with you.  It IS and it changes you merely because it is His good pleasure to do so.  It will never change, never stop, never lessen, and never disappear.  David’s wife Michal was chastised for stopping David from dancing and rejoicing in the Lord in what is the ultimate story of Uriah Heep Mentality. (2 Samuel 6:14-23)  It is not narcissistic to rejoice that you are an eternal, spiritual being as well as a physical one, to look forward to eternity and to your glorification in a righteous body, seated up with God in the heavens. His blood has paid for your place there, and He wants you to live like you know it! (Eph. 2:6, Ps. 63:3, Hk. 3:17-18, 

BASK in that.  Enjoy that. Be happy and rejoice. Put your tiara on your head and dance around in it like you would the sunshine on a summer day.  It’s your gift, and instead of shoving the gift away, you can live in the light of that glory.

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Photo by ЗДОРОВЬЕ ЧЕЛОВЕКА

God’s love and kindness
    will shine upon us
like the sun that rises
    in the sky.
On us who live
in the dark shadow
    of death
this light will shine
to guide us
    into a life of peace.

Luke 1:78-79

 

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Why I Stopped Texting at Red Lights

may1Last year, my state of Washington enacted a new law: you can’t even hold your phone in your hand at red lights any more.  Ever.  You will be ticketed and fined if you are caught even holding your phone at a red light while sitting and waiting.  Yes.  For reals.  The article is here.

I think this law is stupid.

End of blog post.

—–

Okay… just kidding.  There’s more.  *wink*

I could go into all the reasons why I loathe this new law, why I think its stupid, etc. etc.  What is dangerous about sitting completely stopped at a red light? Practically nothing that would involve a phone.  How long are those red lights where you’re just sitting and waiting?  Often super long.  Would I ever practically get caught doing it if I kept my hand down below the window?  Probably not.

Will so many of you comment with why the law isn’t stupid and will I still insist it’s stupid?  Yep.  *wink*

I could also give you all of my excuses: I get lost easily and have to constantly check gps.  True.  I never text or anything while actually moving.  True.  I am an efficient person who likes to use that dead time.  True. The odds are 99.999999999% that nothing will ever ever happen if I hold my phone in my hand while stopped at a red light.  Also true.  The law was probably made because people are too stupid to pay attention to whether their car’s moving or not.  Probably also true.

However, it’s a law.  It can be repealed on the basis of idiocy, but until then, we’re stuck with it.

I keep wondering if my kids are whispering the same things to themselves behind my back.

“This is stupid.”

It probably feels super stupid to them when I tell them to turn the other way and not sneeze all over the food.  I know they’ve got to think it’s stupid, because they continue to sneeze all over the food and look confused when I exclaim over it.

It probably feels stupid when I tell them to get dressed, make their beds, tidy up their rooms, and do their devotions before they go down to breakfast.  Because time and time again, they choose to ignore this one also.

There are lots of things our authorities tell us to do that can seem overbearing, nonsensical, and stupid.  However, we elect those authorities into office, and until laws get changed, the stuff still stands, stupid or not.

Yet there are just things that are tempting to ignore because they seem stupid.  Using your phone at a red light isn’t in the Bible.  It’s not even considered common sense nationwide.  If I were to move back to Texas tomorrow, I could still hold my phone in my hand and make calls while I drive!

After the umpteenth time of trying to reiterate why we have a certain rule in our house, and having my kids give me that blank look that shows stuff isn’t computing, in a fit of frustration, I vowed never to use my phone at a red light again.

That wasn’t where you thought I was going with this, was it?  *wink*

But really.  I just realized that there are areas – giant areas – and sometimes teeny tiny areas – of unsubmission in my own heart.  Things I want to do anyway because I truly think I know better – and because I’ve decided they’re stupid.

And because I was trying my very best to get through to my kids – “Whether you like it or not or care about it or not, God says to obey your mother, and so you should want to do it because you LOVE HIM, and obeying me shows love to Him.  So because you love Him, just do your homework assignment the way I told you to.  Okay?”

I realized that often times I show hypocrisy.

Now there are gigantic ways I do this, of course, and you might be saying, “Come now, RJ!  What’s this about phones at red lights?  Next you’re probably going to talk to us about watching illegally ripped movies on Youtube or fibbing that your vacuum cleaner stopped working and that’s why your carpet wasn’t clean!  No one cares about this little stuff.  We all do it.  Talk to us about your big, deep sins.  Let’s gawk at that.”

Oh, my friend, I usually do.  I usually talk about the giant stuff on this blog.  But not today.  Today I want to talk to you about a stupid new little law on cell phones at red lights.

Because I think that the same heart attitude of, “I don’t care.  Stupid people made this stupid law and I’m going to do what I want anyway” is the same attitude that my kids have towards completing their chores, and the same attitude I have towards all my biggest sins of pride, ungodly speech, impatience, selfishness, and fear.

“I know what I want, and so I’m going to do it anyway.”

When did Christians become people who tried to get away with as much as possible, instead of people striving for holiness?

And no, I’m not saying we do even the smallest and stupidest of laws so we can be “perfect” and harshly, fearfully lash out at those around us (or maybe even internally judge) like, “How DARE you commit the red-light-law?!  God have MERCY on YOUR SOUL.”

Also, don’t do it because of those watching.  “Kids, let me read you this blog article I just wrote.” *sniffs and straightens lapels* “You can get a good look at how righteous Mama is!  Feel like wanting to be me?”

No, I’m saying, strive for holiness in all those little unsubmissive ways that are pricking your conscience right now – for no one other than the Lord Himself.  Because you love Him.

You’re so in love with Him, that you’d lay down every pleasure, everything that you’re lazy about, everything that you just can’t do without, and everything asked of you just because He defines your happiness and reality. Because you want the cleanest conscience and the holiest living because you’re just in love with who He is – and simply because He says so. ❤

 

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 RJ Conte is a wife and homeschool mother of three little girls (aged 7 and under) by day, and an author by night.  She has written a devotional for toddlers and preschool kids that is meatier than the typical fare they hear in Sunday school.  ASTOUND delivers doctrine and big concepts for the very small, and teaches them to love God, in language they can understand!

 

Do you have a FACE?

When it’s 2 AM and your brain is shot because you were up to 4 AM last night transferring files onto your new laptop, and you’re still busy doing it tonight and you’re sooooo done…

You get weird thoughts.

There was a line in a George MacDonald book I was reading called “The Fisherman’s Lady” that is sitting deep inside of me and making me think.
In it, the character of the blind bagpiper is this really quirky old man. He’s been blind his whole life. He adores his family but hates his enemies. He’s a stubborn, stubborn, passionate man with a few obvious strengths and a few glaring faults. Someone with the last name of Campbell killed his great grandmother, dooming that generation of his family members to a hard life. Even though that doesn’t affect his own personal life, he’s sworn to DESPISE anyone from the Campbell family – going so far as to wish them dead. Like it runs deep.

At one point, someone tries to challenge him biblically on his hatred and lack of forgiveness – this didn’t even happen in his generation! The guy is a really decent grandfather, good citizen, and Christian man, yet he can’t forgive this enemy of his ancestor. It’s like he needs something to passionately hate. His pride is a scourge on his heart.

Her words just don’t get through to him, and she finally approaches his grandson, the main character, Malcolm.
Malcolm has a thought that keeps sitting in my brain.

Okay, look at this picture of these babies. Just look at each one’s FACE. See the vulnerable, adorable HUMANITY in that face.

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Well, everyone started out a baby just like that. And everyone has a FACE. A face with humanity all over it.

Malcolm points this out and tells the woman,

“When I was a young laddie at the school, I once heard that a certain boy was mocking my grandfather. When I heard that I thought I could have just cut the heart out of him and sunk my teeth right into it. But when I finally found him and got a grip of him, and the rascal turned up a frightened dog-face to me, I just couldn’t drive my clenched fist into it. Mem, a face is an awful thing! There’s something looking out from inside that just prevents you from doing what you might otherwise like to it. But my grandfather’s never seen a face in his life.”

I wonder if that’s why people can be so vicious on FACEbook – because there really isn’t a FACE to be seen anywhere in the conversation. If that’s why the real wicked lurking in people’s hearts actually come out online. We don’t really see the eyes – the window to the soul – of the people we’re talking to before we cut their hearts out and sink our teeth into them.

And then there’s Charlottesville.

Seriously, I don’t even use the word “race.” There isn’t such a thing. There are different levels of melanin in the skin, and, to be honest, melanin doesn’t interest me a hoot. I don’t give a rat’s behind about melanin. Now we all have a FACE. And the face is always, always beautiful. The face says we are all human beings. ❤

Some people who have eyes that work are actually blind. Look into the FACE. And see people God created and loves. That’s all that matters to me!

Forgive, love, give, serve, and be the FACE of Christ to others!

 

Top Posts of 2016!

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It’s time for the list of the top 10 posts of the year!

This was a slower year for me, mostly due to pregnancy and all that comes with that, so I only wrote almost half of the amount of posts of the previous year.  In 2015, I wrote 93, and this year I wrote an exact even 50.  BUT, even with half the posts, I actually, just barely, got more views and visitors this year than last year, meaning that my posts are bringing in more readers than ever!  Hooray for that!

This year, I had 11,687 visitors to my blog with 16,043 views and ended the year with 118 blog followers.  *cheer*  (To follow this blog, click FOLLOW on the right hand side of this page) 

Without further ado, what were the most popular posts of this year?  Well, not all of them were even actually published on this blog this year – some have remained super popular from previous years, and have lived on with lives of their own all over the Internet.

Sitting at #1, by far, with no competition, and with around 35 hits A DAY is:

Anime Characters by Myers-Briggs Type (with 7,164 individual views this year!!)mami_tomoe_render_by_moeblueberry1771-d5evnl7

This post is also #1 on any Google search for “anime characters by Myers-Briggs type and continually brings in guests to my blog.  Kind of exciting, even if it is very niche.  So if you like anime AND personality typing, this is the post for you.  Identified by name, show title, and picture, I have anime characters from various shows in neat little groups according to their types.  🙂

 

The Day I Met Job (with 996 individual views)PCOS Challenge Infographic

This makes me so happy that it’s #2.  This is the deeply personal testimony of what God did in my heart and life last year after suffering with secondary infertility.  It is also about my best friend and her daughter, an appreciation of my mother-in-law, a nod to a fellow author, and mostly a testimony about a hero of the faith I met last year.  Please read the article.  I hope my vulnerability and sharing of God’s greatness touches your heart!

 

An Open Letter to My Pregnant Sister (with 460 views)beautiful-wedding-tiara

Still going strong.  This is a writeup I did for baby showers that I first composed for my sister 2 1/2 years ago, and have tweaked a few times since to share with other expectant moms.  There must be a need for this, as people continually search for this online and find my site.  🙂

 

Tied with “My Pregnant Sister” is: Setting up the Romance Ship (with 460 views)austenland-holding_13254521245

How fun that my breakdown of the smart secret to writing a winning romance story did so well!  I thought this one was a bit obvious until I read (and watched) many people miss this key point to setting up their relationship story. Thinking I had nothing to lose, I threw my own theory out there, and it did very well!

 

Should Married Women Vote Against Their Spouse? (with 349 views)your_vote_counts

This one was a hot button when I first posted it a few years ago, and it continues to be something people search for and find through my blog. Read at your own risk…  🙂

 

Could You Love This Genderless Person? (with 287 views)5

Maybe it was just a catchy title, but this was a very niche article about genderbender dramas that I posted. A “genderbender” is when a guy dresses up and pretends to be a girl, or vice versa, and the opposite sex falls for them.  I explore this trope and why it means so much to women, and maybe what’s spiritually at the heart of this “forbidden romance” story.

 

In Memory of Victoria Mercy Conte (with 262 views)conte-052

A year and a half after the sudden and tragic passing of my husband’s baby sister, this post, written by *him* not me, still makes the top 10 on my list.  Please read my husband’s beautiful, tear-jerker tribute to a lovely life that sits very dear to our hearts.

 

NAME THE BABY! (with 221 views)namebabygirl02

I’m legitimately shocked that this made the top 10!  Last year I teamed up with lovely author Melanie D. Snitker to do a giveaway and promote each other’s books.  Readers named the baby that her main couple was pregnant with, and we got some great responses.  I need to do more on this blog with fellow authors next year!  In the meantime, check out Melanie’s very successful books on Amazon.

 

Asian TV for the American Newbie Viewer (with 188 views)patemainverted_dvd-f

This is a fun list that I kept on my sidebar.  Always hearing me talk about anime and kdramas but have no idea what’s safe or good to watch or where to start?  Not sure you’d even like Asian TV?  I put together a “starter” list of Asian TV for people who don’t like Asian TV, so to speak.  These are storylines and shows that I think any American could love without feeling too “eastern” in the storytelling style.  Give any of these shows a chance, and let me know if they did not disappoint!

 

And last but not least: Sarcastically Realistic Movie Descriptions – Name That Movie!2a3

This one also surprises me that it made the list.  This was a funny little game I posted on my blog a while ago, and it’s done well recently.  Someone must have reposted them.  If you’re looking for a comedic way to describe popular movies, as a game for a party you’re hosting, this might be the post for you.

 

So which blog post of mine was YOUR favorite this year?  Leave a comment!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections on the Election – by the Home School Legal Defense Association

Everythinmike-farrisg that I could say about the current election is said even better by the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)’s chairman, Mike Farris. Excellent recap of our concerns, needs, prayers, and even hopeful relief in Donald Trump’s election.  I urge you to read it carefully.

 

So what does this mean for issues of concern to homeschooling families and related communities?

1. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and related treaties most likely will not see the light of day.
The person leading the State Department’s transition team is Steven Groves, a long-term ally from the Heritage Foundation. Steve and I were the only two witnesses allowed to testify against the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

This is a strong signal that the State Department will move in a good direction on protecting American sovereignty.

2. We will need to exercise special diligence on judicial appointments.
Historically, Republican appointments for federal judges are good in many sectors of constitutional law. However, GOP-appointed justices have been very unreliable on issues of parental rights and religious freedom.

HSLDA will join with other religious freedom–oriented groups to ensure that these issues are given appropriate consideration in the process of vetting federal judges.

3. We cannot just assume that all will be well on education issues.
Donald Trump has no experience or track record with education policy. There is some very early talk about an effort to actually close the United States Department of Education. That would be a wonderful miracle.

It is fair to expect Trump’s team to take away any federal program that will promote the Common Core. This does not mean that states will automatically stop this program. But the federal financial incentives to do so should be halted.

We can and must insist that the prohibitions on any federal role in homeschooling (which we first won in 1994) will be extended and hopefully put into permanent law.

4. Religious freedom will still be an extremely important issue and cause for concern.
While we can expect the administrative branches of the federal government to be far less of a threat itself to religious freedom, the federal courts are not so easily changed in the short run.

However, many of the threats to religious liberty are at the state level. State agencies are the ones that have prosecuted Christian pharmacists who refuse to sell abortion-causing drugs. The Supreme Court (led by GOP-appointed justices) eviscerated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and limited the ability of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to protect citizens against state agencies which invade our free exercise rights.

There is not a lot that the Trump administration can do to fix these state-based problems originally caused by the U.S. Supreme Court. Appointing good justices is a start, but that is a long-term issue that will require a real change on the Court.

Religious freedom fights will continue to escalate and we cannot relax thinking all is well on this front.

5. The right to life may see some important gains.
It is very possible that Planned Parenthood will no longer receive federal funding. That will be a really big deal, if it comes to pass.

We certainly should see the federal government step back from its role as a worldwide promoter of abortion rights.

6. Mike Pence may become the most influential Vice President in American history.
While Donald Trump clearly understood the hearts of the American public in remarkable ways, his lack of political experience will require him to lean on others for knowledge and wisdom. There is no finer man I have ever worked with in politics than Mike Pence. He is a strong evangelical Christian and an unfailing friend to homeschooling families.

I am committed to praying every single day for Mike Pence, that he will be relied upon in significant ways not only for policy but for wisdom and an example of character.

7. Trump and the GOP majority in Congress have a real chance to deliver.
If the Trump administration becomes known for verbal outbursts and vendettas, the GOP will suffer long-term damage. Worse yet, because of the strong evangelical Christian support for Trump, this community will suffer lasting political consequences through association with a leader for whom character does not matter.

However, if Trump turns a page in his life and becomes the man that many good and godly people hoped he would become, then we have the far better story that people can change and that character still does matter.

But as important as the character issues are, the plain fact is that Trump and the GOP must deliver meaningful change that results in less federal government, less debt, less intrusion into our lives, and greater protections for the freedoms actually listed in the Constitution. The alienation coming from the long-term failure of the GOP to deliver any meaningful reform is at the heart of the reason the electorate rejected every experienced politician, first in the GOP presidential primaries and then on November 8.

In short, if Donald Trump exhibits consistent character and together with the GOP leadership in Congress delivers meaningful change, then the future looks brighter than it has in a long time. But, in the meantime, citizens must be vigilant at all times because the allure of Washington, D.C., can entice the best and the brightest.

8. We need to pray for our president.
Donald Trump will be sworn in as President on January 20. If we are Americans, he will be our president, just as Obama was our president. Our duty to pray for our president is unconditional and does not depend on whether we voted for them or not.

I am praying that Donald Trump will become the man that many believed him to be and that he would come to know Christ in a mature way. (I don’t know his soul, but we can always pray that someone would grow in Christ.)

In conclusion
Pray for our leaders. Hope for the best. Watch and be ready to fight at a moment’s notice.

 

Ask Me Questions!

Hello, all!2014-06-05-14-00-19

I’m thinking of trying to get with the twenty-first century, and try to use video more with my online presence. I’m looking at a video advertisement idea, as well as I want to leave a video for you on my blog and Facebook page answering questions YOU have for me.

They can be on anything: Christianity, parenting, Asian TV, or, of course, writing and publishing.  Please shoot your question my way here in the comments, or, if you want to be anonymous, to dashwoodavenue@gmail.com (and label it “anonymous question”).

Look forward to “seeing” you here later this week!