Dear car emissions lady, I am sorry


I wanted to hug the woman doing my vehicle emissions test today.

I recognized this as a potentially awkward action, so I refrained. Hugging a total stranger unexpectedly has too many options for interpretation.

Yesterday came the news of another black man killed for what appears to be little reason. Grieving over that, I watched the attendant, a thirty-ish black woman, doing her job, blank-faced. And suddenly all I wanted to do was hug her and tell her I was so, so sorry.

She would probably have thought that was odd at best, a misguided attempt at avoiding white guilt at worst. I could be wrong though. Perhaps she would have embraced me in return, and two people might have had one moment of surpassing barriers that should not exist. I don’t know. Maybe it would  be the only apology she ever heard, and that would be something, at least.

I’m sad, and frustrated, and angry, and most of all, so, so sorry.

  • I’m sorry for the fact that she has to worry about her children all the time. Will they be given a fair chance at life? At staying alive? Will they have to watch their backs and take precautions my children never had to?
  • I’m sorry she has to be afraid as a default because her skin has more pigment than mine. As a woman, I know what it is to be afraid as an undercurrent in our lives. The stronger and more powerful can hurt us, and we never know who carries that intent. I know it for me; I know it for my three daughters. I know she has a double layer I don’t experience.
  • I’m sorry for the looks of suspicion when she enters a nice store. The side eyes from other mothers at the playground when her children join the crowd. I’m sorry that I don’t even know what other kinds of embarrassment she suffers because I cannot imagine it. It’s never come near me.
  • I’m sorry her husband or brother or father or son is not as safe as mine.

And I can say that without taking away from others’ pain at protests gone violent or other senseless killings. They are also evil and wrong. Unlike people, evil does not discriminate.


I can apologize and be terribly, mournfully sorry even if I’ve never done a racist thing in my life.

How is that?

If I saw a stranger hit by a car in need of help and I walked past, would I be at fault? I didn’t drive the car. I don’t know the person. I would never hit-and-run myself. But if I walk past and do nothing—am I not contributing to that person’s harm? If I lean over his bleeding body and say, “Hope you do OK. I think hitting people with cars is dreadful,” and then hasten on to my Starbucks date, have I done all I should?


It’s time to stop refusing to apologize for the ills around us just because we didn’t drive the car. I know a lot of people are offended by that idea. I probably was, too, not so long ago. But I’ve learned that apology is freeing, not debilitating. Like mercy, it is twice blessed–it blesses she who gives and she who receives. (My high school teacher who made me memorize that Shakespeare speech would be proud.)

I don’t detract from myself if I am sorry for another’s experience and I admit I have never helped. I don’t lessen myself or anyone else. I open myself up to becoming more than I have been.

It doesn’t hurt me to say I’m sorry. But it hurts her immeasurably that no one does.

Not seeing and not hearing our brothers and sisters is refusing to be the image of God, as well as refusing to see the image of God in them. God sees. El Roi. God hears. El Shama. It’s so part of his character that it’s part of his name. He especially hears the oppressed—exactly what He is doing when He takes these names (Genesis 16).

Being sorry is not weak. Being sorry is brave. It’s the strongest stance a person can take, directly against all out tendencies to hide in the garden away from God’s all-seeingness. It’s a step into the light. Being sorry is being willing to go first. It’s looking vulnerability in the eye and accepting its mantle as a prize, not a punishment.

When we were children, we used to think that when we grown up we would no longer be vulnerable. But you grow up to accept vulnerability. To be alive is to be vulnerable. Madeleine L’Engle


I’m tired of the lie that “sorry” is weak. Sorry is strong enough to open doors heavy with the weight of the ages. It’s a start. 

An Unexpected Party!


This is a bit of a departure from my usual blog posts. But — this is a special week! I am having a party over on Facebook, and I would love it if you could join me. Come to the party, enter contests, win prizes, have fun, see weird photos, get recipes for hobbit food. What else could anyone want? #hobbitdevo. 

Three years ago, I wrote a book about hobbits. And elves. And dwarves. And some pretty kick-butt women as well. Mostly, about God. It was designed as a devotional for teens, but a lot of adults have loved it, too. Here’s the back cover copy:

Hobbits, elves, and dragons have become common fantasy characters but do they have more relevance to your life than you think? Are they as real as, or the same as, people you meet every day? Maybe not literally, but J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous characters bring to life real character qualities we all can learn from, whether good or bad. What can the bravery of a hobbit, the faith of a elf, or the greed of a dragon teach teens about themselves? How can their stories lead us to the real Kingdom where God is working out way more than a fantasy for his people? Dig in to these familiar characters and relevant Bible passages to find out. Come out understanding how to live your own epic story!

A lot has happened in three years, and the most exciting part is that teens have been coming back to the Bible through this book. Parents have emailed me with their excitement over kids who seemed to be drifting away from faith who kindled a new interest in studying their Bibles when they discovered that some of their favorite characters could be related to it. Also, they discovered they didn’t have to leave their sense of humor or their brains behind to believe the Scriptures. Amen! I have been humbled and grateful for these messages.

I’ve had the opportunity to go into schools to teach kids about literature, heroes, faith, and their place in the big story. I have met some incredibly smart, thoughtful, kind kids. They are the best. 


I love Tolkien, and I love teens/young adults, and I LOVE connecting the next generation to faith. It’s been a journey — an adventure, one might say! — that I can’t wait to continue.

People have had questions over these three years, so I’m taking some time to answer them here.

1. Why The Hobbit? What sparked your interest in Tolkien?

Hah. Years ago,my brother tried to get me to read the books. He said they were the greatest things ever. I tried first with The Silmarillion and said, “Yeah, right. Don’t think so.” Can you think of a better way to bore a fifteenish-year-old girl? Fast forward to years later when my husband started to read them to our girls when they were elementary school aged. I listened, saw the first movie, then picked the books up myself and devoured them. There is something magic about Tolkien’s skill mixed with real, unforgettable, and deep characters, and a story of epic good and evil fought by everyday heroes. Who else would get away with such unlikely heroes? He manages to show both the greatness and depth of evil in humankind in this small world of his.

2. Why would teenagers want to read this book?

It might seem that fictional fantasy characters don’t have much in common with real teenagers. But that is so not true. They feel inadequate, afraid, angry, proud, exhausted, hopeful—all the things we all feel. Teens are looking for their adventure in life—how do they fit in this world and what is their task? In Tolkien’s world, it’s all about tasks and unique callings; it’s about normal, average people finding their place and doing great things. How do they do it?

3. How is this book different from all the other ones out there on this topic?

Well, I have a professor who endorsed my book who said in his reply email, “When I first received your request, I thought, ‘No, not another one of those books! Then I read it and loved it.’” So—it’s not another one of those books? Another reviewer called it “delightfully sarcastic and irreverent while deeply spiritual.” I rather like being called that.

4. What’s here they won’t get in the book or the movie?

What is the unique Christian perspective Tolkien wrote with that may not have translated into film? Also, teens can see themselves in these characters when they study them individually. They have take home value.

5. Who is your favorite character in the book? Why?

screen-shot-2016-07-29-at-4-42-40-pmSooo hard to answer. I have to say I love Eowyn. I didn’t at first; I thought she was too cold and discontent. But her loyalty and fierce need to do something important—I can so relate to that. Plus, she’s a princess who isn’t afraid to pick up a sword and fight for what matters to her. How cool is that? I love strong female models, since I have three girls.

6. Describe the process of writing each chapter.

Fun? A lot of fun. But other than that . . . I figured out what really stood out as far as a character trait or lesson for each person. Some were easy—some difficult. Then, where do you see that in the book? It was tough using only one quote! Where do you see that in Scripture? How can a person apply that Scripture to daily life? I tried to be very, very practical and fun while working with serious stuff. I think it worked.

7. What was the best moment in working on this book?

It had to be when I got the endorsement from said professor. He’s a giant in the field, and I knew sending the request it was such a reach. No way I’d even make it past the gatekeepers. But I did. It felt like I’d applied to Harvard and got a scholarship. I learned a great lesson in just going for it.

8. So, the movies. Pro, con–are you a purist or an action-adventure junkie?

screen-shot-2014-10-30-at-12-00-58-pmHmm. Leaning more toward the former. But not completely. The thing for me is character development. What makes a story great is what choices the character has to make and how his or her journey is followed. The first Hobbit movie did OK in that regard, but I really think the second one failed. It lost track of its focus. I don’t mind additions and changes that help move things along—I LOVED the LOTR movies, changes and all. But in this last installment the main character is all but forgotten. It seems he’s just sold out to a lot of video game crap I’d expect from lesser directors.

9. Why do you think Tolkien is of such enduring interest to people?

The reasons I mention in question one. People can completely relate to his characters. They are not larger than life—they are us. (Except maybe a wizard or two. They’re a bit larger than we are.) They don’t start out amazing—they grow into it with hard work and love. That’s who we are, or who we should be. And we know that. We feel it. It’s very real. Also, everyone feels intrinsically called to something important. We are constantly seeking that. Some find it—some don”t. But we’re pulled toward stories that speak to that.

10. Do you really own Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit and can you really beat anyone at it?

Short answer—yes. Thought I am a bit rusty. OK, my middle daughter and I are a pretty matched pair. But put the two of us together on a team—yeah, bring it on.

11. Tell me something more about you.

I used to teach high schoolers, and I loved it. Odd enough for you? I truly think they are a great age. I’ve spent ten years working in community theater, performing and directing. I have pictures of me doing so that will never see the light of Facebook. Pink hair, purple tights, giant false eyelashes? Yep, I’ve done it on stage. But—I’m a flaming introvert. Hugely so. I am also a pastor, which is a fun bit of mold breaking as well as serious stuff. I love my three daughters and one husband, manage our three cats, garden on an acre in the western suburbs of Chicago, and plan our next vacation as soon as we get home from the last one.

Thank you for the chance to share the story of Hobbits, You, and Spiritual World of Middle-earth. I hope you know a young person who could draw closer to Christ through it.


Five Ways to Develop a Heart for Service


33422_445689050125_6454112_nNo generation, it seems, has been as enthusiastic about hands-on service than the present young one. Yet it often seems that, with all the time our kids spend in front of screens, getting them face-to-face with others, serving them, feels more like pulling a throw rug from your vacuum cleaner than a great adventure.

Do teens and tweens even want to volunteer with their parents? Can they get out of their own little world long enough to deeply care about those in need? Yes. And Double Yes. But there are definitely ways to start right.

Discover Their Passions

If your daughter doesn’t seem interested in serving tacos at the homeless shelter, maybe it isn’t lack of compassion but lack of connection. Sure, Christians should be willing to serve anyone, but in fact, God gives us all things that light a fire inside. Starting there is the easiest way to give your child a spirit of selflessness. Does she show concern over shelter animals, or abused kids? Does her heart hurt over women who can’t find clean water or girls who want an education but are not allowed?

Engage her in talking about what news or issues bother her. Listen. Look for opportunities to serve others in an area that already has her heart.

Offer Control

11dc5-387823_10150509337570126_697430125_11201480_183523353_nYour tween or teen is more than capable of researching volunteer possibilities on her own. Give her rein to come to you with suggestions she’s found or ideas she’s come up with. Suggest she do the phone calling, emailing, and scheduling. Let her own the process. Choose what the family does together and give her the credit for doing the work.

Consider Her Temperament

The thought of making small talk with strangers at a nursing home will terrify an introverted daughter. But she might thrive in a one-on-one with a lonely child. Similarly, your exuberant child could happily volunteer at a special Olympics field day. Think about it—is she intellectually gifted, socially bent, musically inclined? Also, consider her attention span. Seek out options that she will find natural and non intimidating. Sure, there is a place for stretching and doing scary things. But later, not at first.

Model a Lifestyle

Let your daughter see that helping others isn’t something you schedule but something you live. If another’s need interrupts your plans, show her how a Christian cares for someone even if it means adjusting schedules or finances. My grown daughter explained the difference to me recently. “If there was a need, we just saw you do it. Not like “something church people must do” but as something natural, a part of daily life.”

Be a Family on Mission

b287c-img_3071Don’t get sucked into the mindset that children wait to serve others until they’re older, teens go off and volunteer with youth group, and parents do their own thing. Kids can minister at any age, and they need and want to do it with their family, not separate. Find a cause that you can all get exited about and pursue that mission together. Make it part of your family DNA.

Sites to check out:

Pennies of Time

Books to Read:

When More Is not Enough,

Don’t Forget to Pack the Kids: Short-Term Missions for Your Whole Family

The Reality of Being a Strong Woman in a Man’s World

“Being too much of one and not another is what makes each of us unique to how the Lord has made us.”

Ever felt like you were too much of something others didn’t want? Too little of something they thought you clearly ought to be? I get it. I’ve been accused of both being too unassertive to lead and too sure of myself to be followed. Go figure. (And never, ever have I been accused of being a Proverbs 31 woman.) In the end, my guest blogger today has an awesome point–while we definitely want to work on the things we truly lack, sometimes, too much or too little is just the way God wants us.

Read on for My guest Brianna’s take on a lie we tell our girls.



I’ve never been the meek, mild, and quiet woman who keeps all her opinions to herself. I’ve never been the one who shrinks back from hard conversations or difficult situations. Sometimes this has not allowed others to accept me very easily. The reality of being a strong woman in a man’s world is acceptance is not always readily to be had, but it should never deter you from continuing to be who God made you to be.

Being a strong woman intimidates some men but also tends to make female friendships more complicated.

The reality of being a strong woman in a man’s world is it weeds out the truly strong women from those who are jealous of her authenticity.

Strong women can more easily learn the ability to be both strong and soft. To compete yet surrender. To rebuke yet still give grace. To both give and receive criticism without it destroying their identity. These are authentic traits that strong women have that are sometimes both taken for granted and discounted by men, yet envied by other women.

The reality of being a strong woman in a man’s world is that often you are labeled as being “too much” of one thing and “not enough” of another.

Too strong. Too Loud. Too passionate. Too smart. Too intimidating. Too much woman for men to think pretty or feminine enough — never obedient enough to be properly labeled a “Proverbs 31 Woman” by both women and men.

Being too much of one and not another is what makes each of us unique to how the Lord has made us. Often what we think is “too much” is exactly what attracts us to our calling in the world and guides us to the path the Lord has for us. Not being enough of another trait is often the weakness that allows the Lord to work in our lives for his glory and purpose.

It’s no secret that loving a strong woman is not always easy. We’re feisty. We have opinions we aren’t afraid to share. We tend not to be bashful about whom or what we like. We brim with confidence, and this can be intimidating.

The reality of being a strong woman in a man’s world is acceptance is not always readily to be had, but it should never deter you from continuing to be who God made you to be.

6f767-261863_10150310628335126_6832995_nThe reality of being a strong woman in a man’s world is that there is more likelihood to be genuinely loved by a real man rather than a man who feels the need to dominate over women.

Real men realize that strong women are vital to the world, the Church, and often their own walk with Christ. They appreciate and are attracted to the strength and dignity strong women possess. They do not discount it, discourage it, or become intimidated by it.

Being a woman who is secure in her faith, capable of her work, firm in her beliefs, and tenacious toward her dreams makes her limitless in her potential for success. She is one who remains steady and focused on her calling and purpose both in business and ministry.

The reality of being a strong woman in a man’s world is ministry is a place where strong women are often rebuked or ignored.

I say to these women — minister anyway. Love anyway. Teach anyway. Serve anyway. Give anyway. Lead anyway. Write sermons anyway. Speak about Jesus anyway. Preach the Gospel anyway. Follow your calling as God leads you anyway.

God has given you the qualifications to be who you are and do his leading. You are a woman for a reason — he did not need you to be a man to do what he has called you to do. You are strong for a purpose. Flex those unyielding convictions and lean into the purpose he has given you.

Yes, the reality is it’s a man’s world, but it’s God’s universe — live as he created you to be. You have a tribe of strong women behind you cheering you on — you are the Proverbs 31 Woman.


Brianna George is a Speaker, Teacher, and Missionary— as well as a part­-time Writer and full-­time Encourager. She currently lives in Middle Tennessee with her husband of 12 years, Jason, busy being Mom to two spicy little boys and Bosa the Boxer. You can read more of her writing at, as well as on collaborative media outlets such as The Glorious Table, The Huffington Post, and The Mighty.

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