Why You Should See "Queen of Katwe"


Disney's Queen of Katwe opened in theaters on Friday and is a huge departure from the studio's typical films. Based on a true story, it is nothing short of stunning. I took my 10-year old daughter and her first request upon leaving was, "Can we own this one?" Here are 5 reasons this is worth watching:

1. Phiona, the protagonist, is an uneducated girl from the slums of Kampala, Uganda who discovers a talent and a passion embedded within. She is relatable enough to American girls (she argues with her mom) and yet different enough to stretch their familiarity. She is Ugandan! How rarely are we given a heroine from another country whose accent is even difficult to understand at times!

2. This is a story about Uganda: it's economic disparity, it's poverty, it's struggles and it's joy. There are no white people! It is filmed in country. And it does not shy away from the brutal reality of Phiona's life. In a way that is entirely age appropriate, viewers face the fear that Phiona's only future may involve being taken by a man.

3. It is pro-marriage. Phiona's chess coach is a loving, caring mentor as well as husband and father. His wife financially supports their household so he can work with the slum kids. Their relationship is a healthy example of marriage both for the chess club as well as the viewing audience.

4. There are strong female leads without debasing the male characters. Phiona's mother is a richly complex character. In her we see the fight to survive and provide for her children mixed with realism and cynicism. As we watch Phiona develop and change, we see similar growth mirrored in her mother. Theirs is a beautiful, loving relationship.

5. It is simply inspiring! You will find yourself cheering for a chess game and simultaneously crying and laughing with all the kids. They are delightful. (And for those of you with an intolerance to pain, it has a happy ending!)

Get thee to the movies!

When Broken Bones Resurrect a Heart

Summer began full of glory. I planted colorful annuals. Strung the bistro lights. Dusted off the swim towels.

Our first guest brought chilled wine and we enjoyed grilled chicken on the deck.

Work slowed. Our newly turned 16-year old drove himself to his job. The 10-year old walked to the pool alone. The new teen was babysitting.

It was the first week and all seemed divine.

Cue record scratching (the new teen argues the sound should be that of a pristine stained glass window crashing to the marble floor of a European cathedral). She should get to decide. After all, it’s her story.

On the last day of the first week, she played wildly with her babysitting charges, jumped high on the trampoline, splashed in the hose strung from above, and landed in all the wrong ways. Ten hours later, after x-rays, cat scans, morphine, surgery, and anesthesia, she left the ER with several screws, plates, and a cast the size of a ski boot.

Summer abruptly ended.

I left the hospital numb, but the emotions were not far behind. On day one, I snuck away to cry. Big fat tears streaming down my face for all the losses: her favorite camp, her first job, the 5 days my husband and I planned for ourselves. I also ate: big handfuls of chips and lots of bites of all the sweets family had brought.

On day two, I cleaned. Like a mad woman, I decided to empty our closet of old clothes and file cabinets of graduate papers from 8 years ago.

On day three, I realized I was feeling everything with far more intensity than my daughter. I wondered, perhaps the gravity of it all hasn’t set in. Maybe the deluge of grief will come soon. Yet she seemed happy, chipper.

We drove to the medical supply store to rent a wheelchair and I asked her, what’s going on? Why do you seem so at peace? Why do I seem sadder than you? Teach me.

And she did. My 13-year old injured child had found goodness in the hurt: she felt loved by all the calls, texts, gifts, and visits. Because of her pain, she felt embraced.

My new teen had a long approach to life: there will be more summers, more camp weeks and more opportunities. Life has not ended, though her previously planned summer had.

And this child who self-admittedly lacked gratitude, lay in bed thanking God. Thanking him that it was not her head. Thanking him that it was not the kids she babysat. Thanking him that she would heal and be well again. She had found the gift in the wound. In 3 days.

And so on day 3, I resurrected.

I decided to come out of the grave of grief and join my daughter in the land of the gospel, where hope reigns and the messy beautiful lives.

If my daughter could choose to see goodness despite her discomfort, dependence on help, and overwhelming loss, then who was I to remain melancholy and mopey? If her eyes were set on gratitude, how could I not join her?

Did it dismiss the pain? Did it remove the grief? Of course not. But it aligned our eyes to the one who offers comfort: to see the gift, and gaze upon the giver.

My daughter broke her leg and then she showed me the gospel.


For The Mom Who Aches For More



Dear Mom,

Is this you?

You have battled thru the Mommy Wars and wrestled with sleep training and discipline methods and school choices and career/stay at home dilemmas. You have fought to find your own voice and now you know, in your bones- you are valued, purposed, wanted.

And more than anything, you want your daughter to know this too, beyond question.

You read Sarah Bessey and Addie Zierman and connect- your faith has taken a beating too. The same Evangelical space no longer fully holds you. You attend IF: Gathering and your heart swells- there are strong women speaking your language. Jennie Allen and Jen Hatmaker and Ann Voskamp remind you- you are strong, valued, purposed, wanted.

You are a mama to a tween. And you are wondering. How in the world am I going to raise her in this new spiritual space I find myself occupying?

You look out at what's available to your kind and you find princess archetypes, balls and promise rings, purity and covenants and spiritual weekends and you think, fine, good, but insufficient. The weight of your daughter's glory hangs in the balance and requires so.much.more.

You look out at her kind and you see young women living small stories, preoccupied with a world of their making of which they are in the center, being swallowed whole by the drama and gossip and narrative of teen culture. You wonder, is it stoppable? Preventable? Especially when you glance back at your kind and realize some of them never grew up. You have people in your spaces still living small stories.

[bctt tweet="You have people in your spaces still living small stories."]

In fact, you realize this is an epidemic. Too many peers have yet to discover their voice. Too many are preoccupied with a world of their making. They can't see past the immediate, the constraints, the hurdles, but worst- they don't believe they're needed, valued, purposed.

And so you look at your daughter. This young girl becoming.

She must know in the core of her being that God has purposed her. She must know He is the center of the story of which she is called to be a part. She joins the tale He is telling, through the passion he has placed in her heart. And the drama? The drama is the unfolding of redemption; the story of mercy poured out on a people. Who will be her people? What will be her place? Which problem will she embrace?

Because you realize, a girl living out her passion does not have time for drama of the teen sort. She is too busy growing in curiosity and wonder and being wrecked by a God who calls us to a story of epic proportions.

Is this you, Mom?

Is this you looking for hope for your girl-child-becoming?

Can you recall a memory of when you were first wrecked? When you were young and naive, did you ever get preachy and make everyone around you feel guilty? When were you so gripped with passion that you sacrificed time and money to advance your cause?

Mine? I became a right-wing, secular humanist-fearing activist in high school because of a camp I attended. I came home and raised my voice and got all heated about certain magazines in our public school library and went before our school board and landed front and center in our local newspaper. It makes me chuckle and roll my eyes now. I would love to take my principled 17-year-old self out for coffee!


But you know what? I was passionate. I had been wrecked by God. My faith was young and naive and maybe I was hearing him wrong, but I loved him and wanted to align my life with the things he cared about. I did it in messy, broken ways... the way we do when we are following a story one chapter at a time.

Do you want more for your daughter? Pray that God would wreck her. Pray that she would develop a passion that sets her sights on a meta-narrative and gets her out of the small story of American teen drama. Welcome her into your own passion.

And mom? If you lack your own, well, you know where you must begin.

Together on the journey,