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  Before you get outraged by the headline and assume I'm bashing being an American - don't. I love being an American. I get misty-eyed at football games when 80,000 people pledge allegiance to the flag and fighter jets fly over. I vote proudly (if hesitantly like this November), and I cried when I bought a soldier coffee the other day. So please don't assume I'm unpatriotic or say I should move to another country. But I was scrolling through social media this morning (mistake number one), and I had a sudden realization that being American allows us to be ridiculous in ways others around the world don't have the luxury of being. I watch the evening news every day (I've turned into my father for whom the world stopped at 6:30 pm), and I know of the world's wars, famines, and threats. I follow organizations that try to stop human trafficking, and I give money to relief organizations that feed and educate the poorest children. My Instagram feed shows me every day the life-threatening, desperate situations people are facing. But it also shows me how self-absorbed and hypocritical I am. How are we Americans ridiculous? Consider these examples: we spend money on...


  I love to read, and while I typically choose nonfiction, I just read three fiction books in four days that I want to recommend to you. They're all super entertaining, and I couldn't put any of them down. I read them on my Amazon Kindle app (which you can download onto any device for completely free! If you have your phone, then you always have a book to read when you're waiting somewhere). The Good Girl by Mary Kubica. Oh. My. Goodness. If you liked Gone Girl and love thrillers, you've got to read this one. I could not put it down! Mia, the main character, returns home from being kidnapped with no memory of what happened and a new identity - she only knows herself as Chloe. Her well-known father, a judge, and her beautiful mother try to uncover what happened to Mia during the months she was gone, and throughout the discovery process, the book moves from one character's perspective to another and back in forth in time. You will not see what's coming - this I can promise you! The Wonder by Emma Donoghue. (The author of Room, if you've read that one, too. Very good but...


  Maybe I'm the only one who has days where I feel ugly, fat, and stupid. But I'm guessing if you arrived at this post, you probably feel that way too. Some days, for no particular reason at all, I wake up in the morning and just feel blah. Inferior. Incapable. Unable to move past the voices lying to my heart. Ugly. Fat. Stupid. I try not to compare myself to other women, and I avoid the 'keeping up with the Joneses' game as much as I can. But my enemy knows where I'm most vulnerable, and my Achilles heel is not feeling good enough. My weakness is wondering whether I'm doing enough and whether I myself am enough. So that's where he attacks. His plan to defeat me often involves degrading my appearance, and he's done it since I was 12. I know this about him, but knowing doesn't always prevent believing. Where does Satan attack you? Maybe he doesn't tell you you're ugly, fat, or stupid, but maybe he tells you you're a terrible wife. A distant mother. A sub-par business owner. Maybe he whispers that your personality is boring, or your giftedness is a joke. Maybe he reminds you of a decision you made...


  When I learned my second pregnancy was with a little girl, I immediately had visions of tutus and hairbows. Parenting up to that point had consisted of Tonka trucks and John Deere tractors, so the thought of dressing up a little girl fascinated me. I left the ultrasound and went straight to the store, needing to buy something pink and prissy to hang in her closet. Today, that little girl is nearly 10 years old, and although I dressed her in pink and placed the biggest bows I could find on her tiny baby head, she did not turn out to be a prissy girl. She is athletic and strong, and she would rather wear running shorts and t-shirts than dresses and tights. Her dark brown hair cascades down her back, and a ponytail has become her signature look. But that dark brown ponytail has become the biggest argument-inducer between the two of us. She hates to condition it, hates to dry it, and hates to brush it. If she had her way, her hair would always air dry and be full of tangles and knots. We’ve gone around and around about it, and every night I find myself asking, “Have you...