[ThisDay] Sex Sells (Apparently)

One of the posts that has received the most interaction was admittedly expected to attract some attention. I wasn’t just searching for website hits… rather, I was making a point. A fun night out with Emma at the mall turned into conversations about large images of ladies in their underwear—everywhere! That night I posted some thoughts on our much we use sexual imagery in marketing and advertising, and the possible consequences of that. That was certainly a memorable post from January 31st in GregsHead.net history. A close runner up was the story called “My Computer Had a Heart Attack” (a good, lengthy read!). For today though, and the last day in this series: Sex Sells (Apparently). (Thoughts/comments welcomed!)

Sex Sells (Apparently)

January 31st, 2013

Aerie Ad - Girl in lingerieI wouldn’t usually post such photos here. But I guess I’m trying to make a point.

Have we really gotten so used to seeing women in their underwear (or less) that it doesn’t even slightly surprise us?

(My hope is that when you saw the photo for this post on my website, you were surprised, or shocked. It hopefully seemed quite out of place. And it should.)

Last night my four-year-old daughter, Emma, and I walked through nearly the entirety of our local mall, and the volume of near-nudity prominently displayed in store fronts truly overwhelmed me. It was not hidden in the lingerie section near the back of a department store. Rather, right out in front, for every passer by.

I did some research when we got home and found out that there are an inordinate amount of lingerie stores in our mall. It could be that this is the reason that there are so many super-over-sized revealing photos, but still, you can’t walk down nearly any corridor of the mall without being bombarded by boobs.

Aerie storefront display - Girls in lingerie

I know I sound old saying this, but… I don’t remember this when I was a kid!

(Yep. Old.)

Now you can be shopping at the Apple Store for an iPad mini and get an eyeful of what amounts to “soft porn” at the same time. (There’s another “intimate apparel” store across the hall from our Apple Store.)

Am I overreacting here? I’m not sure. I am a guy, of course, and scantily clad, beautiful women do have a certain appeal, but what is that appeal? Certainly it is to my flesh—the part of me that is supposed to be dead. We are all well aware, however, that it still fights for life.

Jesus said that adultery is wrong, but that a man looking at a woman lustfully is just the same (since sin is a heart issue, before it’s a behavior issue) … but, I’m not sure that’s why I feel uncomfortable strolling the halls of the mall. (There wasn’t any lustful looking going on.)

I am more uncomfortable when my boys are with me. Aged 14 and 11 1/2, the internal chemicals are beginning to and have already worked their magic and the appeal of women dressed in little, even posed suggestively many times, well… that’s not something I want to test my boys’ will power on. And all to just find a new favorite well-used video game?

Last night it was Emma, who was certainly taking it all in. Once she said, “More bras! Ha!” (Yes, she’s awesome.) So I’m not really sure what she thinks about it, but she at least finds it somewhat humorous.


But I think in the end, I just find it sad. Near the end of our mall tour we passed Spencer’s. This particular window display was the most overt of all the stores in their attempt (in my opinion) to use sex to sell. (They might even more be selling sex, not simply lingerie, but…) I actually shook my head at their forwardness, and quickly moved along. Later when I was looking for store displays online to share with you here, I discovered that when you click the above banner—taken from their website, but this was also the current store front display—you have to consent to viewing adult material before going further into their site. So, perhaps they aren’t even trying to hide the soft porn part?

(Note: I actually do remember that my mom would direct us past and cast doubt upon the goodness of Spencer’s stores in our various malls. Though I do think we darkened their door a time or two along the way. I think my sister liked some of the stuff in there? I do not remember such displays in their front windows… but I do have this inner, red warning light regarding their establishment. Perhaps this is not a new development.)

What I think all of this reveals about us (yes, pun intended) is a culture that is certainly progressing more and more towards debauchery. Again, I know that I sound old suggesting that “my generation” wasn’t as perverse as “this generation”, and to an extent, I’m sure I’m wrong. People are people. We’re all dead in sin, none of us can escape that; one generation’s societal moral superiority notwithstanding.

But I really do think this is a symptom of a deeper sickness.

Families are now horribly rent asunder: rampant divorce, children outside marriage, multiple parents (but really no parents), gay marriage, abortion… they are all signs of our inner moral corruption and decay.

So it makes sense that we’d continue to feed our flesh—the part of us that drives this decay—and even progressively think less and less of it, allowing it to have more of a hold on us.

We’re naked under our clothes. (Did you know that?) Nakedness is not the sin. The way it’s used to appeal to our selfish, fleshly, worldly desires can be, and those desires can be. Paul said, “All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial.” Perhaps that applies here.

I don’t think I’m talking about the over-sized posters, though.

It seemed so blatantly obvious last night on our walk through the mall that these are symptoms of a culture-wide decline; gradually slipping more and more toward full worldliness, and farther away from godliness. It makes sense, of course, as culturally we have been removing God from everyday life for several generations now. It’s certainly bound to happen this way.

I know I sound old. (And, I kind of am!) This generation is worse off morally than mine, but maybe not than my parents’ generation? (The sixties, hippies, etc? Could be we improved from that?) And we will continue the downward trend until, as individuals, and families, and then as a society we allow God to resume his rightful position as Father and leader and provider and all that he is and wants to be to us.

Until then, it shouldn’t surprise me what is displayed in the large windows of our public marketplaces. If we continue this way, it wouldn’t be shocking to see actual nudity soon, as well as much more sexual images.

This really is the visible symptoms of a deeper issue.

I want to say, “And I hope for our society’s sake that we turn to Jesus and live full lives as he intended us to!” … but I wonder if that’s my wrong thinking about “life to the full”. Life to the full is messy. We are messy, broken, sinners. We are in a broken world, and though we can experience a taste of true, unbroken life, we are still here, in this mess. And that will never change, until we’re not. So, no matter how much we, as a society, might turn to Jesus … the deeper issue here (not the symptoms) is part of the bigger picture of “full life” that God intended. I think.

That doesn’t mean I have to traverse the mall corridors, though. 🙂

I’ll finish by saying that I hope wherever you are right now, you know the Father, the One True God, and Jesus Christ whom he sent (John 17:3) and that you know his abundant grace and life and are living that fully and free from guilt and condemnation and judgement (John 3:17) … because that is how we’re meant to be.

(Clothed, or not.)

Note: The photos in this post are mostly taken from the retailers’ websites. My iPhone camera was not doing a good job capturing the images I wanted to use for this post. All of these images here were on display in three-times-real-life size in the store windows, as well as dozens more.


Thankful [Memory Lane]

Each Thursday in August we’ll be taking a trip down Memory Lane! I will be posting some of my favorite stories ever published here, part of celebrating ten years of blogging—August 2003 to August 2013. Some posts are taken from books, and others (like today’s) have only been published online thus far. You’ll read stories that are funny, stories that are sad, and several heart-warming moments from the life we’ve lived. If you missed any, you can use the series navigation at the end of this post to read more. I invite you to enjoy these moments from the journey with me, too.

You’ll probably notice, reading through these Memory Lane posts, that my kids are a very important part of my life. I love being a Dad, despite the challenges, hard moments, hard weeks. As I mentioned in the previous post, it’s pretty amazing how much I learn from the kids (seems like it would be vice versa, no?)

This story was of another hard day that became so beautiful, just by being grateful.


July 12th, 2011

There are days that it’s incredibly hard to see the good side. Where you’re so completely overwhelmed by the crushing weight of sadness, or failure, or just plain pain that you can’t see a way out of and seems it will never end.

For whatever reason, we’ve had more than our share of those around here lately.

But last night as I was putting the four youngest kids in bed, for some reason I decided to start (quite randomly) naming things that I was thankful for. “Thank you for Mom… and for (insert sibling name here)…” was how I began. Then I began just literally saying any word that came to mind. Some things I saw around their room, or then any related item or word. It quickly exploded into a fun game of who can think of the most random thing to be thankful for!

And the neat thing was, it worked.

The kids were not that excited to go to bed last night, but that little exercise lightened their hearts, and perhaps enlightened mine.

I found it was easy to rattle off all sorts of “good” things that we can be thankful for. Stars, trees, the sun, the moon, Grandmas & Grandpas, other friends we love, books, paper, paint, carpet, air conditioning, and so on. So I began intentionally thinking of “bad” things. (Or at least, weird things to be thankful for.)

“Thank you for toilets. For bottoms. For toilet paper.” Emma (our three-year old) picked right up on that, “Thank you for pee pee… AND poo poo!” And then I actually made myself say, “Thank you for HOT days.” (Reasoning in my mind that, though I loathe and detest the heat, I do love a good, juicy tomato … and they rather enjoy hot days.)

This seemed to work for all of the kiddos from the youngest (just about 2) who would grunt his approval with a little, “mmm hmm” after every word or phrase I’d say, to the room full of his three sisters all spitting out random words as fast as they were able to fit them in. It really was incredible!

One Thousand Gifts by Ann VoskampIt made me think of a book that Jen asked me to read, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Jen reads her blog, and so decided to purchase her book, and was challenged (in a good way) to try to change her perspective on life, as Ann has tried to do. It’s kind of a “glass half-full vs glass half-empty” idea, but a bit different. Her challenge was just to write down 1,000 things that you are thankful for. A few each day.

I think we may have hit about 400 last night alone! 🙂

There are so many things that we can be thankful for. It really just depends on your perspective. If you can come at life looking for goodness, you’ll often (usually) find it. If you’re expecting bad, you’ll usually end up there.

So maybe try it tonight. Putting kids to bed… after they are in bed… on your way home from work… just let you brain bounce from one thing to the next and speak it out, “Thank you for _____.” Not just things that God directly gave us, necessarily, but think about the things that are part of our everyday lives, and how they help us. We really do take much of life “for granted”, as they say. Doing so lifted my spirits last night, and four other tiny spirits.

Perhaps it can lift yours, tonight, too.

Special Moments [Memory Lane]

Each Thursday in August we’ll be taking a trip down Memory Lane! I will be posting some of my favorite stories ever published here, part of celebrating ten years of blogging—August 2003 to August 2013. Some posts are taken from books, and others (like today’s) have only been published online thus far. You’ll read stories that are funny, stories that are sad, and several heart-warming moments from the life we’ve lived. If you missed any, you can use the series navigation at the end of this post to read more. I invite you to enjoy these moments from the journey with me, too.

This recent stop on Memory Lane is a reminder that life is so much more in the moments along the way than most of the other stuff we spend ourselves on, day after day, running into years. And just like last week’s post, Loss, I’m also reminded that the moments don’t even have to be “good”—or, what we’d usually call “good”—to be a special moment; a moment worth enjoying and remembering.

One of the greatest things about parenting is how much your own kids can teach (or remind) you about life.

Special Moments

November 2nd, 2012

Some days just have those moments.

Today has had plenty. (And not all good ones, mind you.)

Jen had a super-frustrating day with (she said) every one of the kids, who just wouldn’t listen to her at all. They only wanted what they wanted when they wanted it. Eventually, she just couldn’t take it anymore and walked away from what she was trying to do, attempting to clear her head.

(It was during this time that Jen decided to make soup, which is something she wouldn’t usually do, and without a recipe, which is something she definitely wouldn’t do! The best part? It turned out great! Was a nice “moment” for Jen to enjoy a great (tasty) bit of success in an otherwise hard day.)

At dinner, we came to another moment where I erupted into a very intense monologue full of very direct, clear reminders of things we’ve taught the kids since they came into this world. Very direct. Pretty loud. And I meant every word of it.

That was a moment.

Then Mom went out for the evening to do some shopping, but mainly to “clear her head”. Much needed, and hopefully she is being refreshed. (I’ll find out when she gets home!)

As the clean-up team took care of the kitchen (and the other two took care of the other rooms) I bathed the youngest two. They really needed it.

(Note: I am quite sick. Nasty head cold, stuffy, bad cough, just keep saying, “My head feels weird…” So… that makes for a more interesting bath time. Oh, and Cam is just as sick as me!)

That was a moment. (But not too bad, actually.)

The girls got their baths, and I got everyone dressed for bed and hair brushed and all that must be done. Then Alex got his quick shower and we were ready for the evening activity.

Tonight, it was singing.

I got my guitar, and a box of chord charts for worship songs, and we just started playing through them. Some the kids knew, most they didn’t. But that didn’t stop them from singing. And dancing. And smiling. And really LOUD singing!

That was a moment. A different sort of moment. (A heart-smile kind of moment.)

I encouraged Ian to get his bass guitar out, and Alex converted a plastic pumpkin trick-or-treat bucket into a percussive instrument, and suddenly we had a band. And even though we didn’t know the song to begin with, by the end of one song Julia had a huge smile on her face… and tears on her cheeks.

“I’m crying!” says little Julia Gayle. “Why are you crying, Julia?” I asked gently. “It’s just because of the singing!” She almost couldn’t believe that music could do that to you, but at the same time, she knew deep within her that it did do that to her.

That was a moment.

Then came bedtime. We usually play with a Dad-animated stuffed friend at some point. Tonight it was the stuffed friend, Baboo. (Cam’s name for his little red-white-and-blue doggie.) We laughed, we had fun, we hugged (Cam wanted two hugs..) and we prayed together for our family.

That was another moment. (After which Cam wanted another hug…)

Days are full of moments. Some are good, some are “eh”, and some are pretty bad (or really bad). I feel like today kinda had all of those for us. Maybe most days do. Sometimes we get tricked into focusing on the bad moments though and we miss the little good ones that are still there, or can be there if and when we look for them.

They’re there. They were for us tonight.

Keep your heart and mind and eyes fixed on Jesus, and he’ll show you the moments. He’s in the moments, actually. All of them.

And if we know that—and live that—that is what makes them special.

It’s Time for the County Fair!

Cotton Candy at the County Fair

The Wayne County Fair opened up today, and we were there! We do enjoy our annual trip(s) to the fairgrounds, especially since it’s only a few blocks from our house! Being so close, we usually make a couple trips up there during the week of the fair, making sure to take advantage of any free admission times (like today).

We mostly enjoy seeing the animals. Emma loves horses, and there are plenty of those there! We visit every stall, cage, barn, tent—anywhere there’s an animal, we’re there!

Last year we enjoyed a concert by a friend of ours and his band. Sometimes we’ll even ride the rides and buy some over-priced food and drink and enjoy the experience.

Sheep sleeping on sheep

And that’s what it is—an experience.

We go to enjoy the experience. Now today, some of the experience was less than enjoyable! Pigs pooping on each other, sheep peeing on each other… these were not enjoyed by all (or, by any!)

Other experiences were even better than usual: our good friends were in town for a visit, and they joined us for a quick visit to the fair. Most things are even more fun shared!

We plan to go back a night or two this week and find our favorite animal, see our favorite sight, or even enjoy that special treat.

Cam loved the fluffy bunnies

One thing I noticed and loved today was the simplicity of it. (You’ll recall, my heart is currently longing for simple.) I found Simple in animals being animals, and, being a fairly small fair, the pace is a bit slower. And we even learned a lesson from the goats. (Nearly every goat was sticking its neck uncomfortably through the wire fence of its pen to reach the hay on the other side—which was identical to the hay it was standing in. Even goats are fooled into thinking the “grass is always greener…”)

July and August mean County Fairs all over these United States. Have you already been to your county’s fair? Will you go if it’s still upcoming?

We Campbells always try to find time for a visit to the fair. Hope you can, too.

Farmer Cam on his Tractor

Will You Let Me Love You? [Memory Lane]

This week we’ve been taking a trip down Memory Lane! Each day this week I’m posting one of five of my favorite stories ever published here. Some are taken from books I’ve published and others (like today’s) have only been published online thus far. These are some funny, some sad, some heart-warming moments from the life we’ve lived. If you missed any, you can use the series navigation at the end of this post. I invite you to enjoy them with me, too.

Today’s story belongs to our lovely little Emma. She is the youngest girl and both a beauty (inside and out) and a genuine spitfire! Vibrant, full of life, vivacious, alluring… that all sums up Emma.

In this story, however, Emma’s softer side is revealed. In fact, I think you’re going to need to go get some tissues before reading any further.

Got ’em? OK, here we go.

Will You Let Me Love You?

February 12th, 2011

Sometimes babies do dumb things. OK, a lot of the time. But usually (really almost always) they are really cute doing them, so, you tend to pretty easily forgive. (That and, they’re all fairly new on the job, so, you cut them some slack.)

Well, today, Emma (who is 2, almost 3) decided she would live up to that.

After her baby brother’s nap (he is 1), she joined him in his crib for a little bouncy fun. Well, the bouncing turned stale I guess, and she thought it would be fun to involve the curtains in the play. It might have been fun at first, but then she jumped a little too high, and pulled a little too hard… and…

The curtain rod is no more.

I came down from my office to get them and noticed that the window did not look right. A quick glance downward revealed the nature of the change in appearance, and I just shook my head in frustration. I surveyed their faces and surmised that Emma was the culprit. (She admitted as much within a few seconds of my assessment.) I scolded her, and removed them from the crib and examined the damage to see if it was reparable. It was not.

So I left the room frustrated and, was also frustrated with Jen that they had somehow escaped her custody. I was just frustrated.

Skip ahead through dinner (steaks!), and bath (fun!), to Emma’s bedtime. She is once again in her brother’s crib (how else can you say good night to him??) and that brings back to her mind the events of the early evening.

“The curtain is broken,” says a sad-voiced Emma.

“Yeah, it is,” says Dad, matching her tone. “But it’s OK, I can fix it.” I even began sort of propping it up to hopefully block some of the morning sunlight.

“Will you let me love you, Dad?” came the sheepish, sullen request.

It took a few seconds to register. I am not sure I’ve ever heard those words strung together, or spoken like that. In our family, we learned that when we wrong each other, rather than saying, “I’m sorry,” which is nice, but leaves the offender still very much “in control”, we feel it’s more appropriate and meaningful to approach the offended, and humbly ask their forgiveness: “Will you please forgive me (for [insert offense here])?”

That is what Emma was asking. She may have been mimicking the tone and phrasing (her own interpretation) of what she’s seen, but I think it was also coming from her heart. And her two-year-old brain actually revealed something amazing to me.

“Will you let me love you” is, in effect, what we’re asking when we ask for forgiveness. Yes, that we’d be forgiven, and receive love from the offended, but also that we’d be allowed to freely give love, too! How could Emma know that? But that’s the great thing! She does!. Jesus said we should be like little children… and that is why. To Emma, life is very simple. Very relational.

(It’s also about candy. And rubber chickens. And frequent screaming. But that’s for another blog post…)

Tonight, Emma got it right. And she got a great big hug and kiss.

And I definitely let her love me. 🙂

[From The Archive] Life Is In The Moments

Highlighting Articles from the GregsHead.net Archives!It’s been a while since I’ve added any posts to this series “From The Archive“. There are a few reasons I am doing so today.

First, I am coming up on ten years of blogging. That’s a good chunk of writing on “the internets”. Almost a million words written, nearly two thousand posts. That sure is a lot to sift through! So one way to find stories that may have been somehow missed is this From The Archive tag/series. Just click on that link (or the image of the Archive) to see more.

Stay tuned… next month I hope to unveil a really, really neat way to read through all the content I’ve posted here through the first decade. It should be a really enjoyable way to browse through the content by year, month, topic, and other ways to be determined. Coming August 2013.

Second, this is just a great story! If you have little ones you’ll certainly identify. If you don’t, I bet you still will.

So many times we let life pass us by, missing the moments of beauty because of a sense of duty.

But life truly is in the moments.

Please take a moment and read this, even if you’ve read it before. May it bring a smile to your face and heart this day.

And may you breathe in the moment you are in, and see the gift from God that it is.

From the Archive: Life Is In The Moments

Handling Disappointment

disappointed-emmaThere are more than a handful of individuals living here, under this roof.

That’s a lot of opinions, a lot of wants and needs, and a lot of expectations.

And, it’s also a lot of disappointments.

Lately, those have come sharply into focus for the two youngest inhabitants of this home.

At ages three and five, these two are learning (many times daily) that life does not always go as you hope it will, no matter how hard you try to conform it to your will.

And their response to this? Not always the best. Screaming, crying, pouting, yelling mean words, and even aiming projectiles at the offender!

So what do we do with all of these disappointments? What advice can I offer to these tiny, inexperienced people?

It’s a Heart Thing

First, and probably last, it helps so much to remember to be thankful. Look for something good. Whatever it might be. There is always something good.

disappointed-camIf Emma was hoping to get some time to ride her bike but she finds out that Mom and Dad had planned other things that need to be done first … and then, when all that is done it rains … that’s a disappointment. Maybe a big one!

If Cam had his heart set on playing with a certain new toy, but then while he was doing something Mom asked him to do, one of his siblings decided they would play with that toy … there is disappointment. And crying. (See photo to the right.)

That’s sad, for sure. Especially if it’s something he’s really set his heart on. But it won’t be long before his brother or sister has tired of the toy, and he can enjoy some time with it then. And in the meantime, there are many other things he can spend his time doing.

Easy, right?

Well, as we all know… it is not very easy when these disappointments are attached to our hearts.

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23

Your heart will always be where your treasure is. Luke 12:34

One way to deal with disappointments is to realize that if we treasure things that are temporary and changing, well, we’re going to face lots of heart-level disappointments. One certain thing in life is change.

This is clearly part of the learning process when we’re three or five years old. It must and will happen.

Bigger Things

But what about bigger disappointments? What about when kids get older and start making choices that affect more people than just a frustrated sibling? What about when money ebbs more than it flows? What about things against which we are completely powerless, like the choices of others, and even death?

What then?

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called. Romans 8:28

There are not words, really, to deal with the harder, more grave disappointments of life. Especially in the moments of hurt. Often, the truth is, you can’t go back.

In those moments we learn from dire need to really hold onto what we know to be true about Father, and how he loves us. That his plan is for our good. This truth becomes so much more sharply focused when whatever else we were counting on is pulled away from us.

Disappointments definitely come in many sizes.

It Always Comes Back to Trust(ing)

The most important truth in Scripture might be what Paul says just a couple sentences later in that same letter.

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Romans 8:31

This can not be overstated: If God is for us—for you—then who or what could ever be against us—against you. What could ever possible overcome you? There will always be disappointments. Forever to the end of time maybe?

But our Father will always be there with us, through them, and he is for us.

That’s one lesson I hope I am conveying to the tiny people God has entrusted to me. I want them to know that their Father is for them. I can say that with my words, both about their Creator Father, and about myself, but even more effective—even better—I can display that through my actions.

So what do we do with disappointments? We remember that our Father is for us, and with us through them. He’s sad when we are sad, glad when we are glad, and he’s always rooting for us.

(Even when we insist on making things worse for ourselves… which ends in bigger disappointments.)

We’ll never stop being disappointed. Even if we could possibly get all of our own choices right—which we can not!—there are 6 billion or so other people out there who would have to do the same, and the whole rest of the broken creation in which we exist.

Not going to happen.

So … we learn to deal with all of the disappointments of the day by being aware of where our treasure (and so, our heart) is placed, and remembering to be thankful—focus on the good—and really foremost of all … remembering that God is for us.

Remembering those things, and with some time and practice (maybe a few decades worth, or even a century or two?) maybe life’s disappointments won’t wrinkle up our faces quite so badly.

Although, maybe the wrinkly times just reveal the wealth and depth of our experience walking through these disappointments with the One who is for us.

Maybe looking wrinkly isn’t all that bad.