Friday, June 17, 2016

But can I wear yoga pants? || thoughts on modesty

modesty noun | mod •es•ty | \mädəstē: the quality of not being too proud or confident about yourself or your abilities : the quality of behaving and especially dressing in ways that do not attract sexual attention : freedom from conceit or vanity : propriety in dress, speech, or conduct

Modesty is humility. Focus on that first definition for a moment. Modesty is not being too proud or confident about yourself. Modesty is humility manifested in the way we dress, but also in the way we act, speak, and look. It is our attitude. It is not enough to look in the mirror and make sure our skirt is not too short, our jeans are not too tight, and our neckline isn’t too low. We have to examine our hearts and examine the way we treat others (Proverbs 22:4, Philippians 2:3). Do we have a lofty view of ourselves? Are we disapproving and prideful toward others who might have different standards than ours? No matter what you wear, no matter how conservatively and carefully you dress and conduct yourself, you can still have a prideful, lofty heart. You can still believe yourself better and others lesser because of your standards, accomplishments, modest dress, good works, etc.

Modesty is respect and honor. I was never raised with severely strict modesty standards. My parents had standards. They did not let me wear whatever I wanted or whatever was trendy. They were quick to tell me when a skirt was too short or a neckline too low. And I was quick to honor their admonishment. Growing up I learned that modesty was not an exact standard as much as it was a way for me to communicate respect toward my parents as well as a respect for myself. Modesty meant honor, protection, worth, humility, and value. 

One of God’s first acts of love toward Adam and Eve after the fall was to clothe them. I don’t know how careful God was to make sure that Eve’s hem was not too short, but I know that he was careful to cover her and Adam’s shame because he loved them (Genesis 3:21). They belonged to him and their dignity as humans was a sign of his love, a sign that they belonged to God as well as a foreshadowing of the promise that he would not only cover their physical shame but cover their sin as well.

Ultimately our desire to conduct and dress ourselves honorably should be the fact that we are not our own. We have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). Our whole being should reflect this truth, including the way we dress. 

The motive of modesty is not to keep men from sinning. I am sure you have all heard that the purpose of modesty is to keep men from temptation. I have never really bought this. First off, this automatically makes modesty an objective, physical standard and nothing more. Second, it completely exempts men from upholding modesty in their own lives. Finally, if a man is tempted to lust then it is a foregone conclusion that the object of his lust was dressed immodestly and failed to do her duty in keeping him from stumbling, i.e. he is excused from his actions and thoughts. 

If modesty is about living in a way that declares we are not our own, we have been bought with a price, then the inherent motivation for modesty can not be a fear of causing someone else to stumble. Yes, we should not set ourselves up as stumbling blocks--men and women alike--and this has to do with the way we dress along with everything else we say and do. But men are not exempt from modesty because modesty is ultimately an issue of the heart. And because it’s an issue of the heart, what we do and do not wear is not the inherent solution or the inherent problem. It is a state of the heart manifested in the way we treat others and the way we treat others includes what we wear around them. 

Modest dress is not a fixed standard. The second definition of modesty—the quality of behaving and especially dressing in ways that do not attract sexual attention--is the side of modesty I think we focus on too much and it’s also the side of modesty that is inherently relative. There are some, I know, who will disagree with me. But let’s face it—there was a time when bare shoulders and ankles were considered scandalous and promiscuous and yet showing cleavage was not considered sexual and immodest, but rather a sign of maturity and maternity. I don’t know about you, but I don’t consider my bare ankles to be scandalous and immodest.

Modest dress is relative in the same way that respect is somewhat relative. What is considered common courtesy and politeness today would probably seem offensive 200 years ago. Prior to the 1910s, no respectable woman wore the slightest amount of makeup or cut her hair short unless she was a prostitute. Obviously, our perceptions and standards have changed because that's how culture works. Does this mean that we conform to the culture? That anything goes so long as everyone else is okay with it? By no means! But be aware that God never gives us a strict standard for modest dress in his Word and that the Gospel is not about conforming our lives to a specific lifestyle but instead letting His Word transform our lives from within (Romans 12:2). He commands us to walk humbly and to let righteousness be our adornment (1 Peter 3:3-4), but he never specifies that righteous adornment means never baring our shoulders and never wearing skinny jeans. 

It is not our personal standards that unite us.We all have different standards for our lifestyles, from the way we eat, dress, exercise, etc. Our opinions and values concerning parenting, education, technology, entertainment, diet, modern medication, and whole natural remedies vary. There is nothing wrong with having specific standards and values, from the lengths of our hair and skirts to the food we eat. We come from different walks of life, heritages, backgrounds, and incomes. It is natural that our lifestyles vary. Yet we don’t let these variances become barriers between us. Instead, we ought to recognize our freedom and look for ways we can give up our freedoms for the sake of our fellowship and unity with one another (1 Corinthians 8:9-13, Ephesians 4:3-6). 

It is Christ who unites us. What a tragedy if we let these freedoms break the unity we have in our Savior! If I am free in Christ and he has not set strict standards for every aspect of my life, this means I am also free to give those things up. As an example, I may be free to drink alcohol, but I will abstain around my recovering alcoholic brother or my brothers who have decided on their own consciences that it is best for them to not drink alcohol, because I care more about them than I do about my freedom (1 Corinthians 8:9-13). It is my pleasure and my calling to give up my freedom for the sake of my brothers and sisters in Christ!

There are two sides to legalism. A few years ago I decided strict modesty standards that required women to wear skirts past the knees and did not allow women to wear pants were legalistic standards. I saw myself as “free in Christ” with my own standards and shook my head and stared down my nose at anyone with stricter conservative standards. I automatically labelled anyone with a more conservative standard than me as legalistic and judgmental, yet there I was in my hypocrisy judging each and every one of them! Over time I realized the arrogance of my attitude. I realized that the ladies I looked my nose down at were godly women who showed devotion and respect to their husbands, parents, and families in their manner of dress, even if it was with a more conservative standard than my own. I realized that instead of staring down my nose and holding myself in lofty conceit over them, I should be encouraging them in Christ, and commending them for their faithfulness and the honor they showed Christ, themselves, and their families.

Modesty is about clothing and honoring ourselves in a way that reflects the dignity and love that God clothes us with, but it is not as clear, cut, and simple as we might like to think. Modesty has more to do with dressing the heart and the way we treat others. It is about our attitude. It might be easier to check the box each morning, to measure our skirt hems and necklines, but what about our hearts? If our standards are becoming barriers between us and our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, it may be that we need to check our hearts and check our attitude.

I have by no means exhausted this topic and I would love to hear your input! This is a subject I am still exploring and developing my understanding on. What is your understanding of modesty?   

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Three Men Who Stole My Heart and What They Taught Me

This article was originally published on March 12, 2014. 

Homeschoolers love to joke about their fictional crushes, but that's because we actually do get pretty serious about our fictional crushes. We pine after characters, typically characters in classic literature, while bemoaning the fact that people like this are next to nonexistent in real life. Fictional characters have about as much impact on our lives as normal people, if not more. But even my fictional-character-crushes were few and far between throughout my teenage years. I didn't read as much as other girls and the books I did enjoy ran more along the lines of Redwall as opposed to Anne of Green Gables and Elsie Dinsmore (I did read both eventually though neither of these have ever been favorites of mine). I enjoyed the Little House on the Prairie series, but I lost interest right about the time Almonzo began courting Laura.

Nevertheless, there was one man who succeeded in capturing my young and impatient heart.
That man was Jim Craig.

My grandmother first introduced me to The Man From Snowy River and Jim Craig when I was twelve years old. Between Jim's blond hair, his piercing blue eyes, his uncanny way with horses, his intense work ethic, his genteel manner, and his boyish kind nature, I was pretty much swept off my feet in an instant. Oh, and did I mention that he plays piano? Yes, it was love at first sight for me.

There, in my grandmother's little farmhouse, tucked away in the wide open Illinois farm country, I discovered my inner cowgirl. That's right. From the moment I met Jim, I decided that I was going to be a stellar trick rider, sharp shooter, and barrel racer--the future rodeo queen of Pawnee Bill's Wild West Show. In short, I was going to be the next Annie Oakley (Fun Fact: I acquired the nickname "Dani Oakley" right about that time and prided myself in the fact that even though I didn't own a BB gun of my own, I was still a better shot than my brothers). My grandmother proceeded to sew me cowgirl outfits. For several consecutive birthdays I received cowboy hats, guns and holsters (toy ones), and cowgirl boots as gifts. My dad also took me to rodeos and wild west shows several years in a row for my birthday.

But within a couple of years, I got distracted with choir, dance and playing the piano. I never received the coveted horse riding lessons or BB gun rifle. I grew out of my crazy tomboy phase and my parents breathed a sigh of relief. Right about that time I started to realize that Jim wasn't as much of the man I had originally perceived him to be. He was actually still very much a boy, a boy on the verge of manhood, a boy wise enough to know that he still had a long way to go, but a boy nonetheless.

A few years later after my introduction to Jim Craig, when I was about fifteen years old and coming out of my tomboy phase, I met the next love of my a land of myth and a time of magic.

His name…Merlin.


You might be vaguely disappointed right now. I mean, I could have at least gone for the gallant sword-wielding dragon-slaying King Arthur. I have recently been studying the Gospel of John (I promise this is going somewhere, it's not just a random bunny trail). In John chapter 3, John the Baptist's disciples realize that Jesus is starting to baptize people and the crowd that once followed John the Baptist is now starting to follow after Jesus. Jealous and frustrated, they turn to John the Baptist and complain about how Jesus is usurping John the Baptist's work. John replies by saying, "The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:29-30) Basically what John the Baptist is saying is that he doesn't care that he is being usurped by Jesus, because ultimately his job was to prepare the way for Jesus and so he finds great joy in Christ coming to claim His bride at long last, even if this joy is seemingly second-hand. 

While I know that the BBC show Merlin is not a Christian show in any way at all, I do believe that the way Merlin serves and protects Arthur every single day, often receiving little to no thanks, is very Christ-like. Merlin's destiny is essentially to prepare Arthur's kingdom for him and then stand back and let Arthur get all the glory. His job description includes mucking out Arthur's stable as well as frequently risking his life for the sake of Arthur. But like John the Baptist, Merlin finds great joy in standing back and watching Arthur succeed and get all the glory while his own significant and vital role remains overlooked and unnoticed. Often Merlin's enemies entice him to betray Arthur, tempting him with the fame and renown he deserves, but Merlin always stands firm. He knows his place. He is fast in his loyalties and friendships.

Merlin is far from perfect, but his genuine sacrificial attitude captured my heart.

That is, until I met Mr. Knightley.

We know this name to have many faces. I fell for this face in particular.

Mr. Knightley, as depicted by Jonny Lee Miller in the 2009 BBC miniseries adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma, is, in a word, perfect. All my previous crushes, fictional or no, fleeting or lasting, simply evaporated when I met Mr. Knightley. Everyone falls short in comparison (I'm sorry Jim Craig, but it's true). I don't even know where to begin.

Perhaps you were expecting a step up from the magic-wielding spell-casting warlock. And instead, here we have a bookish, quiet, humble, country man. Somewhat disappointing. But see, if you're me, that's actually one of the attributes that makes him so impressive. He's homey, down-to-earth, and principled. He's content in his quiet life and small circle of friends and family. He is also eloquent and witty. He has a great sense of humor. He is uninhibitedly kind and generous toward everyone. Oh, and he dances.

However, the one surpassing quality that Knightley possesses is that he understands love. If you have ever read or seen Emma, you know that Knightley and Emma's relationship has more of a sibling dynamic than anything else. By "sibling dynamic", I mean that they squabble and quarrel with one another. But ultimately they are honest and up front with each other. Knightley's love for Emma goes beyond admiration. He deeply cares for not just her physical wellbeing, but her spiritual wellbeing. More than anything, Knightley wants to see Emma do the right thing and grow in character. And what's even better is that Emma understands this. She knows that when Knightley scolds her and lectures her, it is only because he truly and genuinely cares for her happiness.

While dashing mountain men and mysterious magicians are phenomenal in their own way, I have grown up to realize that the most impressive men are the men who exemplify Christ, understanding and exercising genuine kindness, love, and humility toward others.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character? What are some attributes you admire in certain fictional characters and why?

Also see The Adventures of a Lucky BugWhat He Must BeWhat's the Issue Dear? (Why I'm Single).

Monday, June 13, 2016

Jeanette Li: A Girl Born Facing Outside || Crown & Covenant Publications

Have you ever prayed to God asking him to “use you” for his kingdom? Have you ever been subsequently disappointed when God appointed suffering, loss, humility, and persecution in your life in answer to your prayers? I am sure I am not the only one who has been guilty of possessing this woeful misconception that being used for God’s kingdom and glory is somehow glamorous. If I am glorified and made much of, than that means God is being glorified in my life, right? Well, sometimes, but not necessarily. The life and testimony of Jeanette Li tells a different story. Her autobiography shares the journey of a woman used mightily and humbly by God, a woman whose life was anything but glamorous, a woman who turned down glittering opportunities for education, freedom, and a thriving career to serve at her rural school in her home village for meager wages, to work as an evangelist, take in homeless children, evangelize in hospitals, organize and maintain an orphanage, and eventually face persecution and imprisonment for her faith.

My pastor recently preached through the book of Jonah, a man who did not humble himself and follow God's will. During his sermon, my pastor pointed out that God provided a ship to Tarshish for Jonah as Jonah ran away in blatant disobedience from God's will. Just because the road is smoothly paved and the doors are open does not mean that is necessarily the direction God wants us to go. And yet how often are we guilty of assuming that because we want something for our lives, then God must want it too? How often have we usurped God and placed our own will as the sovereign authority? 
God will build his church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Jeanette Li 
Life is not marked with giant road signs saying, “God’s will in this direction”. It takes discernment, humility, prayer, and wisdom from God’s Word to determine where God means to use us and where he has called us. Li exemplifies this kind of faithful deliberation and wisdom in her life, continually seeking God’s guiding hand in His Word and through prayer, and then confidently and humbly going wherever he called her, even if it was not the easiest path or the one she necessarily wanted.

Li’s life was not an easy one. Her testimony and work as an evangelist made her vulnerable to persecution, imprisonment, and countless other dangers. When the People's Republic of China declared the annihilation of all religion in 1949, Li was considered a traitor, was imprisoned and brainwashed for her unwavering faith. And yet through her entire life, through every trial, Li testifies to God's grace and sovereignty, and how he orchestrated every event from her earliest days as a child all the way until the end. She praises God for caring for and providing for her even in the midst of persecution and suffering.

Li’s life was void of many of the liberties and luxuries we are familiar with and accustomed to. She was born a woman into a time when women were abused and trampled upon, viewed as worthless, treated as commodity, and seen as stupid and incapable of learning. Shortly after her birth, Li’s aunt told her parents to dispose of her. After all, she was a girl who would eventually marry into another clan and profit her family virtually nothing. But in God’s good providence Li’s parents kept her because they had lost all their previous children to sickness and couldn’t bear losing their last and only child.

What’s more, Li’s father was determined to raise his only daughter as a son, to give her the education, privileges and rights that a son would have in a household. As the only girl in her rural school in Deqing, Li learned to read when she was six years old. Unfortunately her father did not live long enough to see his desire completed to its full fruition, but he nonetheless impressed upon Li and her mother the need for her to acquire an education and this paved the way for Li's entrance into a missionary school, here exposure to the Gospel and eventual conversion, acquiring a job as a teacher and eventually an evangelist, and even pursuing a college education.

Li was a woman of action. In every situation she responded and reacted hastily with the necessary action, whether that meant taking in abandoned children on the street or destroying her nationalist identification papers while escaping a city besieged by Communists. But in every situation, Li always prayed first. She never ceased to cry out to God for help and to praise him when he provided. Every decision flowed from her firm conviction in God's promises. Her whole life was consumed with a keen awareness of God’s power and his readiness and willingness to listen to the cries of his people.

Jeanette Li's testimony provides courage and boldness for the disheartened saint. She was a woman whose faith in Christ thrived even as her country fought viciously to extinguish it. Her story gives us a glimpse into the life of the church in the midst of suffering and persecution and reminds us that Christ's church thrives under the worst assaults of the enemy.  
The church of Christ is his body. He purchased [her] with his own blood....You ask me if the church in China will be destroyed? How could it be, in the light of all these great promises?—Jeanette Li  
Comparing Li’s life with my own left me deeply convicted of the luxuries, worldly possessions, comforts, and pursuits I so frequently prioritize and stake my happiness and joy in rather than God's desire for my life . Li was born into every disadvantage possible and yet her disadvantages ultimately served more to her own advantage and to the glory of God. She was free of the worldly cares and distractions, the comforts that our society is plagued with. And this is the beauty of the Gospel, is it not? That God takes the weak, foolish things of this world to put to shame the wise.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Which Marvel Avengers Character Are You? || Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

This was really difficult, to say the least. I have heard the personality types for these characters disputed and to be completely honest, I don't completely agree with my assessment. There was more than one character I kept flip-flopping back-and-forth on. I am interested to hear your input. Are there any characters you would have typed differently? According to my assessment, which character are you? If you have never taken the Myers-Briggs personality test, you can find a free shorter version of this test at

Steve Rogers / Captain America – ESFJ

Provider - Loyal, Traditional, Sensitive, Responsible, Generous, Optimistic

The strongest defining characteristic of our beloved Captain is no doubt loyalty and an unwavering sense of duty to his country, convictions, but most importantly to his friends. But Steve is not simply about following the rules and maintaining order at all cost. He has a deep sensitive side to him as well. He picks up on the emotions of others and does his best to dissolve conflict and feelings of ill-will. He cares for his friends and he cares for the "little guy" because he has been the little guy. His charismatic leadership skills inspire confidence in those around him and draw people to follow and trust him. If the Captain has a weakness, it is failing to understand someone else's perspective. In his eyes, there is a right way and a wrong way and he will not hesitate to criticize and oppose anything that does not align with his beliefs. He is quick to make a judgment call and slow to compromise. 

Tony Stark / Iron Man – ENTP

Debater – Friendly, Resourceful, Headstrong, Self-Centered, Independent, Curious, Clever

In Captain America: Civil War, we all saw a side of Tony Stark we had never really seen before, the grieving side of Tony or more like the side of Tony who never truly grieved the death of his parents and still doesn't quite know what to do with his negative emotions. Tony has always been known for being fiercely independent, obstinate, conceited, and brilliant. He can be charming and charismatic, but never diplomatic. He prefers to work alone, but he doesn't mind stealing the spotlight once in a while to show off his intellect. He is not necessarily out to play the hero. Unlike Steve Rogers, Tony's motivations are not rooted in his loyalty to his convictions but rather his insatiable curiosity and thirst for knowledge. Tony is willing to go to great lengths to satisfy his intense desire to learn and explore and he's not afraid to play devil's advocate once in a while to do so. He does care about helping people and improving the welfare and protection of his home planet, but to Tony being a hero is more about solving a giant puzzle. In Avengers: Age of Ultron Tony takes things too far and compromises the safety of, well, the entire universe in his pursuit for knowledge. He has a difficult time drawing the line and because of this tendency he needs the people in his life who are close to him to ground him and keep him on the straight and narrow. 

Thor – ENTJ

Commander – Ambitious, Forceful, Strategic, Optimistic, Egotistical, Adaptable, Energetic

Thor is the quintessential hero. He's dashingly handsome, strong, heroic, and brave. And he carries around that giant hammer, the symbol of his infinite worthiness and purity of heart. Like Captain America, Thor is a born leader, motivated to protect his kingdom and the people he loves by his strong conviction and unwavering sense of duty and loyalty. He is reliable and steadfast. However, Thor is not always the most sensitive or perceptive person. His leadership was bestowed upon him for his humble worthiness, but sometimes his status goes to his head. He can be a little arrogant and lofty. He doesn't really pick up on peoples' emotions and has the tendency to walk over others’ feelings without even realizing it. Sometimes this backfires, as in the case of his adopted brother, Loki. But ultimately Thor holds steadfastly to what he believes and will always be there to fight for and protect the people he loves.

Bruce Banner / Hulk – INTJ

Mastermind – Discreet, Industrious, Logical, Deliberate, Self-Confident, Methodical

Similar to Iron Man, Bruce Banner is driven by an insatiable thirst for knowledge and an understanding of the world. He has a great vision to help people in his pursuits and discoveries but he would rather not play the hero on the battlefield or draw any attention to himself whatsoever. Bruce is less inclined to enjoy the spotlight, but he inevitably draws a crowd because he transforms into a giant, green, angry, and terrifyingly powerful creature. Still, he does not enjoy being the center of attention and would rather leave that role to someone else. Banner is most content when he can work anonymously by himself in some remote location where he feels his scientific discoveries and work benefits others the most. Beneath his outward calm, Banner is a storm of emotions he does not necessarily understand or even knows how to control all the time, though in the first Avengers movie we saw how he conveniently figures out how to manage his hulkish rage for the first time. 

Nick Fury – ESTJ

Supervisor – Contented, Energetic, Prejudiced, Self-Satisfied, Practical, Conventional

Fury is the driving force that initially brings the Avengers together. He is not a hero and he is not at all about decorum, attention or popularity whatsoever. Fury is out to get the job done. To him there is one right way, his way, and he doesn't really care if everyone agrees with him or not. He knows where to find people to take his side. Fury is pragmatic and straightforward, less concerned with individuals as much as he is concerned about saving the entire universe as quickly as possible and with as few casualties as possible. While Fury works hand-in-hand with S.H.I.E.L.D., we see in Captain America: Winter Soldier how little faith Fury really has in the agency and in government institutions in general (I mean, what is up with that armored car? A little paranoid, are we?) 

Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow – ISFP

Composer – Easygoing, Flexible, Spontaneous, Friendly, Quiet, Creative

Romanoff may not be a free-spirited hippie who paints rainbows and sunsets all day long, but she certainly maintains an uncompromising standard of style and grace in everything she does and she is all about dismantling stereotypes. She is an independent, adventurous, introverted, and sensitive spirit with a keen awareness and physical agility. Details of her environment don't escape her. Unfortunately she sometimes finds herself on the wrong side when her curiosity and desire for adventure get the best of her. For the most part, Romanoff is compliant and willing to let others take the lead, but she is not afraid to speak her mind and not afraid to go her own way. She is used to acting on her own apart from the approval of others. Romanoff does not often exhibit open, direct opposition, but she certainly has a rebellious streak which shines when she takes Stark's side and signs the Accords but ultimately acts instinctively on what she thinks needs to be done, even if that means assisting the Cap and Bucky.

This lady is all kinds of awesome, and WHY DOES SHE NOT HAVE HER OWN MOVIE YET?

Bucky Barnes / Winter Soldier – ESTP

Dynamo - Energetic, Dominant, Flexible, Demanding, Sociable, Playful

Mental disorders blur the lines of personalities and it is obvious that Hydra’s influence permanently damaged Bucky. To grasp Bucky’s character we have to go back to the beginning, back to the 1940s, to the making of the first Avenger, Captain America. Bucky is Steve’s childhood best friend. He’s the guy who wards off the bullies and sticks up for Steve no matter what. He is the sociable, charming one of the two, but instead of deep emotional connections, Bucky is more about the experience itself and living in the moment. Bucky has his own personal convictions and moral compass, but he does not necessarily need everyone to see things his own way. He simply wants to be free to live as he chooses. Bucky often acts impulsively, relying on his ability to improvise and act quickly than on his foresight and logic. Though he is not an overly introspective and philosophical person, Bucky is highly perceptive and has a keen eye and memory for details. Hydra has certainly done its damage on this Winter Soldier, but his personality nonetheless shines through as he reconnects with his friend Steve and with his past.

Sam Wilson / Falcon – ENFP 

Champion – Enthusiastic, Outgoing, Spontaneous, Changeable, Impulsive, Energetic, Understanding

Steve Rogers first meets Sam Wilson during his morning run ("on your left"). Wilson is surprised and a little disgusted with Rogers' super speed and strength, but the two quickly forge a connection during a military focus group for soldiers struggling from PTSD after returning from active duty. In characteristic fashion, Wilson connects with the soldiers as well as Rogers, sharing his own inspirational story of how he recovered after losing his wing man during a night op, and inspiring Rogers to continue to find a reason to live. Though their friendship begins rather quickly, Wilson's loyalty and belief in Captain America is steadfast. When the Winter Soldier appears on the scene, Wilson urges caution but displays understanding and remains loyal to the Captain's decisions since he knows what it means to the Captain to finally find a friend from the past, someone who can relate to what he has been through, someone he couldn't save then but has the chance to save now. Wilson can be serious and focused when need be, but he prefers to keep things light, frequently interjecting his wit and sense of humor into intense situations.  

Lieutenant James Rhodes / War Machine – ENFJ

Teacher – Active, Pleasant, Sociable, Demanding, Impatient, Appreciative, Compromising

Lt. Rhodes initially appears on the scene as Tony Stark's glorified babysitter in the original Iron Man movie. But Rhodes is not simply there to oversee damage control. He serves as more of a father figure and eventually a friend in Stark's life. He is a mentor and a firm believer in the potential Stark has. His role in Stark's life is vital because while the whole world views Tony as a shallow reckless millionaire playboy genius, Rhodes never stops believing Stark is capable of more. Like Potts, he accepts Tony for who he is, but he doesn't stop there. He holds Stark to a high standard, the standard he believes Stark can and should achieve. Rhodes' loyalties are ultimately in his ideals and in the people he cares most about. His strong loyalty is his best characteristic, but it can also serve as a blind spot in his judgment. 

Clint Barton / Hawkeye – ISTP

Craftsman – Critical, Detached, Guarded, Independent, Resourceful, Observant

Until Avengers: Age of Ultron, Hawkeye and his past remained a mystery. There is still much of Hawkeye that he keeps to himself (BUDAPEST--TELL ME NOW!!). He is not a man of many words and he is also not the kind of person to talk a lot about himself. In Age of Ultron, we saw a little more of the Clint Barton behind the skilled craftsman and Avenger, Hawkeye. When he is not forging intricate weapons and arrows for his bow, Hawkeye prefers to spend his time with his family. He is independent to the core but will not hesitate to be there for the friends and family he loves. His job as an Avenger is just the kind of thrill-seeking, moonlighting hobby every craftsman needs. 

T’Challa / Black Panther – ISTJ 

Inspector – Cautious, Conventional, Responsible, Organized, Dutiful, Traditional

T’Challa is introduced for the first time in Captain America: Civil War as the young king of the fictional African country Wakanda. His character is quickly but thoroughly defined when his father is assassinated in the explosion of the United Nations during the signing of the Accords. The young grieving king takes it upon himself to avenge his father’s death and assumes the mascot of his country as the Black Panther vigilante. His motivation in siding with Iron Man is purely personal—he wants to kill the Winter Soldier. As logical and deliberate as T’Challa is, he is not an emotionless machine. His emotions are governed by his sense and this is ultimately his salvation because in the end he realizes the truth and that the road of vengeance is the road to self-destruction. In many ways, he makes the decision Tony Stark cannot make and enables himself to be driven by a desire for peace and a greater good rather than his own personal feelings. His journey to healing begins with helping others to heal.

Am I the only one who's really excited for this guy's solo movie?!? I didn't think so.

Vision – INFJ

Counselor – Sincere, Sympathetic, Unassuming, Nurturing, Reserved, Patient, Loyal

Starting out as Jarvis, the artificial intelligence, companion, and robotic assistant created by Tony Stark, Vision is essentially the perfect being. He was forged from Loki’s staff and given incredible powers of perception, strength, and wisdom. Vision’s wisdom and ability to see the outcome of any given situation gives off the appearance of fortune-telling, but he cannot see the future, he simply is incredibly intuitive. Before taking action, Vision must deliberate and consider a matter for a long time. Though he is powerful, he finds it difficult to make spur-of-the-moment decisions in a fight. On the battlefield, he typically takes a more defensive reactionary approach than a full-blown aggressive onslaught. He is motivated by a desire to maintain peace and harmony within the earth and between his friends and he is uncompromising in his deeply held convictions. Nevertheless, Vision is not without weakness and his weakness is no doubt his emotions. Vision obviously feels a great deal, perhaps more than any other character and certainly more than he lets on, but he's not always the best at articulating his emotions and it takes him some time to understand them.

Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch – INFP 

Healer – Artistic, Reflective, Careless, Sensitive, Flexible, Appreciative

If there is one character who feels more deeply than Vision, it is Wanda Maximoff. With the power to move objects with her mind and manipulate peoples’ emotions, Wanda internalizes everything around her. This is evident in the opening of Captain America: Civil War when she does her best to contain the explosion but inevitably ends up destroying half a building, killing and wounding several people. She also is still not quite recovered from the death of her brother in the previous movie and is working out who she is as a specially gifted human (or mutant, to be precise). She needs time and freedom to discover who she is. She does not necessarily make her decisions based on objective logic or sense, but rather on how she personally feels and understands the situation at hand. When deciding whether or not she will sign the Accords, Wanda needs more time than most of the other characters. She ends up choosing the Captain’s side, not necessarily because she is completely against the Accords, but because she feels her freedom is threatened by Stark’s attempts to “protect” her.

Scott Lang / Ant-Man – ESFP

Performer – Changeable, Charming, Spontaneous, Energetic, Forceful, Initiating, Resourceful

None of the Avengers are quite as entertaining or amusing as Scott Lang, otherwise known as Ant-Man. He never takes himself too seriously and easily diffuses the tension of any given situation, which is a blessed relief in the midst of Captain America: Civil War.  Easygoing and relaxed, Scott is not always the most reliable person in the world. He can be forgetful and distracted but ultimately he wants to do the right thing and fulfill all of his obligations as a father and superpower. Though you might not think it at first glance, Lang is kind of brilliant (I mean, he did graduate with a Master's in electrical engineering) but he functions best when he is in the heat of action, often relying on his skill and ability to improvise in the moment. 

Sharon Carter / Agent 13 – ISFJ

Protector – Conservative, Conventional, Guarded, Reserved, Industrious, Compassionate

Agent Carter is the niece of Captain America’s love interest from the 1940s, Agent Peggy Carter, the founder of S.H.I.E.L.D. Sharon is a significantly understated character, but don’t be deceived by her genteel and calm appearance. Agent Carter is not afraid to fight for what she believes and for the people she loves, even if it means compromising her career. She utilizes her practical sense and strong moral compass alongside her compassion and altruism to formulate her decisions. Her ideals are inherently conventional and traditional and she is inclined to side with the United States government, but even though she maintains the outward appearance of compliance, she ultimately supports the Captain because her relentless loyalty remains with the people she cares about.

Peter Parker / Spider-Man – INTP

Architect – Candid, Ingenious, Complex, Independent, Rebellious, Philosophical, Detached

Peter is an understated genius, the kind of person you would not necessarily pin as a genius upon first acquaintance because he is so humble and quiet about his accomplishments. He is also a reluctant hero, one of the few heroes who is determined to keep his alter-ego as Spiderman a secret. Even though Peter is exceptionally wise, intelligent, and mature for his age, he still maintains a childlike enthusiasm and outlook on the world. This can be seen in Captain America: Civil War during the showdown at the airport hanger. In the midst of the battle, Peter can't help but geek out about how Captain America's shield defies the laws of physics and Bucky's arm is made of metal (that is so cool!). His candidness throws team Cap off just a little and lightens the whole mood of the conflict, for which we are eternally grateful.

What did you think of my Myers-Briggs assessment of each of these characters? Would you have typed the characters differently? If so, how? Which character are you? 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

12 Things That Require No Talent (But Make You an Awesome Person)

I recently saw this awesome photo on Instagram featuring 10 Things That Require No Talent and I thought I would expound on this list as well as add an extra of my own. Because being an awesome person doesn't take a lot of brains or raw talent. However, it might take a little work, effort, and sensitivity...but we'll get into that. 

1. Punctuality So, I am not the best at being on time 100% of the time. I tend to come rushing in at the last second or be running a few minutes behind. Then there are the rare days when I make up for all my tardiness by showing up thirty minutes to an hour early. But being on time is not only kind and considerate to your friends and coworkers, it is also a kindness to yourself. I don’t like being late. It sets me back, stresses me out, and disorients me for the better part of my day. Consistency and dependability are important. Showing up on time is important, giving your boss notice when a crisis emerges or you’re sick is also important. Be reliable. Be on time. Be consistent.

2. Work Ethic I never considered myself someone with an intense work ethic. In fact, I am pretty sure I was one of the laziest kids in high school. Not only that but I have always been a huge procrastinator. Over the last few years I have discovered the many benefits of continually working hard and how simple it really is. It doesn’t take a prodigy to get out of bed every morning and go to work, come home and do the laundry, wash the dishes, etc. When I am tempted to put off a task, hit the snooze button (again), or forego completing a chore, I remind myself that ultimately I will regret this decision tomorrow when the job is still waiting for me. I also remind myself that other people depend on the work I do and when I procrastinate and fail to follow through, I disappoint and hinder the people in my life.

3. EffortYou don’t have to possess copious amounts of talent to put a good effort forward. Too often we get hung up on our lack of talent and we let this keep us from even trying. I don’t push for perfection in my piano students as much as I push for practice and trying again and performing even when you don’t have it perfect. Put forth effort every single day, even if you haven’t been blessed with an abundance of genius or talent. Effort will not necessarily give you an advantage over someone with more talent, but it is a commendable quality in and of itself. Put forth effort every day and you will not disappoint yourself.

4. Body LanguageI hesitated to include this on the list. Body language does not take talent as much as it takes intuition. Maybe you are not naturally intuitive, but all it takes is a little of the above effort we discussed to develop a little more awareness and sensitivity to control how your body language effects those around you. I could write a whole post on body language, but for now I will leave you with one helpful tip—when someone is talking to you, listen and show them that you are listening by watching them and responding with your looks and gestures as they talk. Don’t constantly glance at your phone during conversations. Be engaged. Be all there.

5. EnergyOnce again, energy does not take inherent talent, but it does take a little effort. Some people are born with an abundance of energy. Others, like me, get easily drained of our limited supply of energy, especially if we fail to take proper care of ourselves. When I don’t eat well and fail to stay hydrated, my energy plummets and with that my mood. Consequently, everything else suffers. Take care of yourself. Sleep well every night. Stay hydrated. Don’t eat junk. Your body will thank you and so will everybody else.  

6. Humility – You should never make a doormat of yourself, but there is something to be said for never being too good or too talented for the simplest, meager jobs. For instance, my boss is great at taking on the small menial tasks whenever he can, tasks like turning the lights on and off at the start and close of a day, turning on the coffee pot, making coffee, etc. The smallest jobs are often the underappreciated and overlooked jobs, the ones that are taken for granted and the more qualified we are, the more we might be tempted to convince ourselves that we are too good for those kinds of jobs. When you see a need, be quick to fill it, even the job seems beneath you, even if you go without any thanks. Trust me; your willing attitude will not go overlooked.

7. PassionI used to think passion was reserved for the boldly successful, ingeniously creative, brilliant, and highly educated people. But passion can be exhibited in the smallest of tasks, no matter how menial or inconsequential the task may seem. Whatever you do, do it well, and be passionate about doing it well.

8. Being Coachable This point goes right along with humility. I don’t care how talented or smart you are. If you always have to be right, I don’t want to work with you and no one else does either. Be willing to learn something new and be willing to be corrected. Adaptability is one of the most esteemed qualities in the work force and all the rest of life. I think Proverbs also has something to say about the wise man accepting reproof. Being coachable is about maintaining a humble and adaptable attitude, but it’s also about being willing to reform your habits and actions if need be.

9. Go the Extra MileDoing what you are supposed to do is great, but do you know what is even better? Going the extra mile. Doing extra communicates genuine care and interest. You are not simply concerned with doing what’s expected of you, or doing your job, you are more concerned about making the people in your life genuinely happy and satisfied. There are few qualities as unattractive as someone who refuses to do more than the minimum of what is expected of them and then on the rare occasion when they do something extra, they do it very begrudgingly.

10. Being PreparedAnd this is the point when everyone raises questionable eyebrows and asks if I am really qualified to write this post. Didn’t I just mention that I am a terrible procrastinator? And it follows that as a chronic procrastinator, I am rarely prepared for anything. But the fact of the matter is, I love to be prepared and I hate showing up to life unprepared. I am a procrastinator, but I hate procrastinating and I hate being a procrastinator. There’s nothing satisfying about waiting until the last minute and showing up unprepared. I hate not knowing what to expect and there is no worse feeling than feeling others cannot reliably have expectations of me. The first key to succeeding at life is showing up every day. The second key is showing up prepared.

11. A Sense of Humor - Being able to laugh at your circumstances and at yourself from time to time is essential for thriving in this world. It's too easy to get hung up on your mistakes or to let life stress you out. There is a time to be serious and solemn, especially when you've done something wrong and you should have done better. But we all make mistakes. We all embarrass ourselves. It's okay to look like a fool every now and then. It's better to take risks, look like a fool, and laugh at yourself later than it is to never try because you're worried about what people might think of you. Besides, everyone loves a person with a sense of humor. My favorite people at the workplace and favorite friends to be with are the ones who make me laugh. These are the people who inevitably lighten the mood, cheer up your day, and motivate you to do a good job. 

12. KindnessThis is my addition to this helpful list because being kind does not take talent. All it takes is a smile, gentle respectful words, and some forethought and consideration here and there. It takes a little more awareness and sensitivity. Once again, even if this doesn’t come naturally to you, put forth the effort to put yourself in someone else’s shoes each day. Before you know it, you’ll be a pro. Being kind and gracious does not cost you anything and it enriches the lives of everyone around you.

There you have it! Now go be awesome.

What do you think of this list of awesome attributes? Is there anything else you would add to this list? 
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