Lastest project!

TODAY, June 17,
FireFall 2.0: How God has shaped history through revivals
has been officially released!


You can purchase the book here.

For a few months, I had the wonderful opportunity to read this book as I provided a light copy-edit for Drs. Alvin Reid and Malcolm McDow. It was an incredible project to work on, as I was challenged and informed while I worked. I was drawn to editing because I love to read and learn, and working on this project reminded me of the blessing it is to be paid to do what I love. Here is a brief review of the book:

In Part I, Dr. Malcolm McDow traces spiritual awakenings from the Old Testament through the early church fathers all the way to the reformation. In Part II, Dr. Alvin Reid continues  to explore spiritual revivals in the modern era, from puritanism to the early 2000s. There is no way that a 300 page book could possibly cover every revival in the history of man, but this book provides a broad look at some of the most influential revival movements in Scripture and protestant history.

Though the first half of the book can be a bit academic at times, Dr. McDow provides a thorough, solid basis for understanding revival Biblically. It is incredible to be able to see how God has been at work since the beginning of time to send His Spirit upon His people and to bring glory to His name! Dr. McDow even provides a brief word-study of the Greek and Hebrew words used to describe revivals throughout the Bible.

When Dr. Reid takes over in the second half of the book, the focus begins to shift as he explains the typical characteristics of revivals and how they have been displayed in various movements in the modern era. As he explains the first and second Great Awakenings and other more localized awakenings, Dr. Reid is careful to describe identifying characteristics of a movement of the Holy Spirit. Though no two awakenings are exactly alike, readers will finish the book with a greater understanding of how to pray and what to be alert for as they seek awakening in their own lives and in the lives of their churches, communities, and world.

As I worked through the book, I began to see why so many evangelicals are holding out hope for a revival in our day and age. I began to pray along with them that God will move among His people. I hope the book will encourage you that the God who created history is still at work in His world today!



As my friend once remarked, “Walk with a purpose and carry stuff; you’ll be able to get in anywhere.”

My first year in business school, I quickly learned the importance of presentation. We have a chance to win an audience before speaking a word, simply by looking professional. On the other hand, we can lose an audience just as quickly with a sloppy appearance. Truly remarkable content will, of course, speak for itself. If your presentation is good enough, you may be able to overcome a shoddy presentation. But the odds will always be stacked in your favor if you look like you know what you are doing. Unless the world already knows that you are the next Steve Jobs, you may want to help them see it by showing them a calm, collected, professional persona. Here are five quick tips that will help you make sure that your content gets the hearing it deserves:

1. Never under-dress. If the dress code says “business casual,” don’t wear shorts and flip-flops! Casual ≠ BUSINESS casual. For ladies, “business professional” can be the most difficult dress code to interpret, but a safe bet is to dress a half-step above what you think will be appropriate. Unless the event is formal, though, you will probably want to avoid a full-length ball gown!

2. Iron your clothes. A smooth shirt and pressed pants do wonders for helping you appear put-together.

3. Wear basic colors rather than bright, flashy patterns. Chevron, neon, and v-necks are very in right now, and I am not saying that it doesn’t have a place. But if your audience leaves thinking, “She was so trendy!” or “He really has a unique style,” they may remember your pants more than they remember your presentation.

4. Don’t let silence or a distracted audience send you into a panic. This may not seem like a presentation tip, but it is so important! When you are first introduced to a group, you may experience either of these two extremes. Feel free to take a minute to gather your thoughts. As you stand calmly before them, the group will know that you are confident in what you have to say. If your nerves start to get to you, it will not hurt to breathe for 5 seconds before continuing your presentation.

5. Know your technology (but don’t trust it completely). If you will be using a computer or a slide projector or a tablet or . . . We almost all use some sort of media device in presentations anymore. If at all possible, be sure that you test your technology before it is your turn to present. Do you need a different cable to connect your Mac to the venue’s projector? Is there a password for the internet connection you will need to show the video you produced? And if the technology simply fails you, remember tip #4 and keep going without it.


What are some ways that you keep up a professional appearance?


Today, I might be wrong.

As I was working through a lesson today, I got stuck. I had no idea whether to say “pull the tape off  the paper” or “pull the tape off of the paper.” Both sounded fine to me, and “off of” sounded just a tiny bit better. However, a quick web search and some of my favorite grammar blogs stunned me; apparently, the grammar world thinks that my acceptance of the phrase “off of” is “illiterate,” “incorrect,” “unnecessary,” “dialectal or informal,” and even hated! explains the issue well. Read on to see what you think:

Is “off of” so awful?

Q: Listening to you on WNYC the other day, I was surprised to hear you use the term “illiterate” to describe the construction “off of” (as in “Keep off of the couch”). I’m a post-doctoral fellow in linguistics who uses this non-standard form. And judging by Google, it’s widely attested.

A: I’ve been bothered by that “illiterate” statement ever since it left my mouth. It was uncharacteristic of me. I’m not generally so judgmental. Even my husband let me have it when I got home from the radio studio!

My big Webster’s New International Dictionary (in a 1956 printing of the second edition) does indeed say “off of” (meaning “off”) is “now illiterate.”

However, the Oxford English Dictionary labels it “in later use only colloq. (nonstandard) and regional.” In other words, this construction was once standard, but is no longer.

For centuries, nobody considered the “of” redundant. The OEDsays that “off of” may have been around since the mid-15th century. Here are some relevant citations, beginning with the earliest (where it appears as “of of”):

circa 1450, from a medical text: “Take a sponfull of the licour … of of the fyir and sette it in good place tyl that it be ny colde.”

1667, from Andrew Marvell: “The Lords and we cannot yet get off of the difficultyes risen betwixt us.”

1712, from Richard Steele, writing in the Spectator: “I could not keep my Eyes off of her.”

1884, from Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn: “I’d borrow two or three dollars off of the judge for him.”

By the time Twain put those words in Huck’s mouth they were probably considered a regionalism. (As Twain wrote in an author’s note, “In this book a number of dialects are used.”)

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage says the “off of” construction lost its respectability in the last quarter of the 19th century. Although it has “faded into the past” in Britain,M-W notes, it has become idiomatic in the US.

Today, the usage guide says, this “innocuous idiom” seems to be used primarily in speech in contexts ranging from “uneducated” to “general.”

“If it is part of your personal idiom and you are not writing on an especially elevated plane,” M-W adds, “you have no reason to avoid off of.”

I admit that I went too far in calling “off of” an illiterate usage. This isn’t 1956. But I still think it’s nonstandard and doesn’t belong in the best written English. Conversation and informal writing? Sure!

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.) says: “The compound preposition off of is generally regarded as informal and is best avoided in formal speech and writing: He stepped off (not off ofthe platform.”

Another source, Garner’s Modern American Usage (3d ed.), finds the construction “much inferior” to the form without the “of.”

The author, Bryan A. Garner, puts the usage at Stage 4 in his “Language-Change Index,” which means “Ubiquitous but….” (In his system of gauging change in the language, Stage 5 means “Fully accepted.”)

One day “off of” will undoubtedly be accepted as standard American English, but not yet.

Interestingly, many other pairs of prepositions are routinely coupled in English: “next to,” “away from,” “out of,” and so on.

The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language has an extensive discussion of prepositions followed by prepositional phrases. “Because,” “ahead,” “instead,” “upward,” “alongside,” “inside,” “outside,” “out,” and others are often followed by prepositional phrases beginning with “of.”

However, the Cambridge Grammar notes that the combination of “off” followed by an “of” phrase occurs only in American English.

Re-blogged from:

Well, what are your thoughts? Is “off of” still just as acceptable now as it was in 1956? Or am I wrong today?

Tips from an executive editor

This week, I had the opportunity to sit in on a lecture by David Mills, who has served as the executive editor for two prominent magazines over the last 15 years. It was an incredible opportunity, and I loved learning from him! In today’s post, I’d love to share just a few of the tidbits I gleaned from him.

1. Writing presents the great temptation to be someone that you’re not, someone greater than you are. Don’t give in to that temptation; rather, write about things that you know, tell the truth, and humbly say only the things that you can say truly.

2. There is always a reason for keeping your head down and skirting the sensitive issues. If you can’t say what you want to say honestly, don’t take the assignment.

3. Make your claim straightforward and clear. Force yourself to say exactly what you want to say in a very direct way. (Hint: If you are stuck with a big idea and you can’t figure out how to narrow it down, try writing by hand.) You will have other chances to say what you have to say.

4. Write personally, but follow the rules. It is okay to use the first person and to tell stories, but it is not okay to try to invent your own system of grammar.

5. Make sure that you occasionally read writers you disagree with and engage their material.

6. Admit that you write with a cause in mind. It will make you a more honest writer, and it will make writing easier, since you won’t be trying to skirt the  issues.

7. Accept the fact that readers are annoying.

8. No matter how sincere you are, try to see through your emotion to your writing. What you have to say may be very important, but it won’t matter if you don’t say it well.

9. Work at becoming sensitive to idealogical and technical language.

10. Double check your own understanding of words. Sometimes, words do not mean what you think they mean.*

After hearing him speak, I can’t wait to read
more that Mr. Mills has written.
What are some of your favorite writing tips?

*See: The Princess Bride

Peter Piper’s response

What do you think about when you can’t seem to fall asleep? My mind often begins racing just as my body is desperately ready for rest.

When I was younger, my dad often read me Dr. Seuss’ The Glunk that got Thunk. In this story, a young girl enjoys spending her evenings thinking. But when her Thinker-Upper gets out of hand, she thinks up a crazy creature called a Glunk.

When my mind would spin at night (which led to endless repetitions of “Wait, Dad! One more question. . . “), my dad would tell me to “turn off my Thinker-Upper.” I still have to remind my Thinker-Upper to shut itself down most nights.

A few weeks ago, as I tried vainly to turn off my brain, my Thinker-Upper decided to write a response to the classic tongue twister “Peter Piper.” You are probably familiar with the original ditty:

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
(Or How many pickled peppers did Peter Piper pick?)

Here is Peter’s response, courtesy of my Thinker-Upper:

“You can’t pick pickled peppers,” Peter Piper piped.
For a pepper’s not been pickled
‘Till the pickler packs it tight!