Saturday, March 30, 2013

What I'm Into: March

On the Nightstand:
Well, I probably didn't read as much this month as the last couple, but I enjoyed what I did read.

Reflections for Ragamuffins: Daily Devotions by Brennan Manning
I was slightly more consistent with it this time and some of the meditations close to Easter really got me. So good!

Work: A Kinddom Perspective on Labor by Ben Witherington III
This continues to be a really good read. There have been quite a few passages that have just really resonated with me.
[This is also why, in my opinion, the good writer becomes better by surrounding herself with the strong words of others]

I'm still working through this. It's so enjoyable and I'm finding myself nodding as I read.

Immersion Bible Studies: Acts  by Craig S. Keener
We're going through these studies in Sunday school and I'm loving them. To me it's the perfect balance between a deep analysis of Scripture with a very practical application. We've done Luke and are in the middle of Acts. Luke had a huge justice focus and Acts (of course) has a huge focus on the Holy Spirit. I've been very impressed.  

On the Shelf:
I'm keeping  both "manuals" from last month as I didn't really make a ton of progress in either. I'm also adding a parenting book to the mix.

Photoshop Elements 10: The Missing Manuel by Barbara Brundage
I keep saying I'll get to it and then I put it on the back burner.

Equipped to Serve (the Training Manual for the Center for Pregnancy Choices where I'm volunteering)
This is something I really need to get serious about.

No More Perfect Moms: Learn to Love Your Real Life by Jill Savage
My friend Darlene and I are seriously thinking of starting a small group for moms at our church and I think we may start with this book.

At the Theater (or from the couch):
Seriously, I did not watch a single movie, even from the couch.

On the Small Screen:
And I hardly spent much time with the TV. I didn't even watch much of The West Wing. I guess I just got busy and distracted by other stuff. Peyton's gotten way ahead of me and I feel like I'll never catch up so we can watch together :(

In My Ears:
My March playlist. It's really brought on strong emotions.

Around the House:
I decorated for Easter. It was very (very!) minimal, but more than I've done the past couple of years.

The kids decided a good place to store their plastic "hunting" eggs was in the play sink.

In the Kitchen:
I've made some tomato soup from one of my favorite cookbooks probably three times in the last month. It's really good, but it was just not tomato-y enough. Which is SO weird because whenever I try premade a tomato soup in a box or whatever I always taste the tomatoes too much and it's not creamy enough. Anyway, I'm working on adjusting the recipe. This is the first time I've really tried to tweak a recipe, but it is getting better. I'm making it one more time this week. 

Also, this is a bit of a cheat, but I watched/helped my sister make this chicken pot pie with biscuits for the crust this week while she was in town. AH-MAZING. I'm going to have try making it myself.

Also, random observations, but Value Butter doesn't come in sticks so much as um, blocks:

In My Closet:
I really enjoyed this sweater this month. I bought it on sale from the Anthro last Spring and it's so comfy. I also really like it for this time of year. It feels a little Springy (maybe even Summery)-- I guess because of the white? Anyway, it's just not as dull as some of my darker Winter things and it makes me happy.

In My Mailbox:
I haven't ordered anything and no fun mail really to speak of. 

In My Cart:
We're in budget mode and I'll be honest, I'm proud of how I've limited myself. Mainly, this means just not even walking through the doors of a Target. I did treat the kids to some new Play Dough when I realized all our old stuff was hard as a brick.

 Also, I recently had a chance to visit an Ikea and I got this cute print for $5 (for the kids room way down the road):
On My Heart:
Of course this time of year I can't help but be so thankful thinking of Christ's sacrifice. The other big (BIG!) thing on my heart is starting the group for mommas that I mentioned earlier in the post.

In My Prayers:
- I'm praying specifically for that group- that it will be a place of encouragement for moms and also a place where we can share our struggles as well as our triumphs openly and without fear.
- I'm continuing to pray for our church in general as we have a lot of transitions with various staff positions being open.
- For my marriage. Peyton and I had a rough week last week, but this one was WONDERFUL. It's something I should always include in my prayers, regardless.  

On the Calendar:  
April is both kids' birthdays. We're going to have a joint party again this year and that will be toward the end of the month to accommodate Peyton's schedule. I also want to make the actual day that their birthdays fall on special to each of them. I'm kind of racking my brain since AP's is next week :)

I'm linking up with Leigh, of course. I'd LOVE it if you'd join me!

What I'm Into site

Friday, March 29, 2013

Repost-- It's Friday...But Sunday's a Coming!

Every single year, I repost something I wrote on Good Friday back in 2009. I'm sharing it again, because *I* need the reminder, but I'm adding a few additional thoughts.

Awhile back one of my professors at MC read us a story out of Fox's Book of Martyrs. It was about a woman who was not only persecuted herself, but watched her child be tortured and yet still refused to renounce her faith. It was hard for me to hear at the time. I remember just being horrified by the story. I couldn't really even wrap my mind around it.

Years later, when I found out I was pregnant, I found myself thinking about the story and it took on a whole new meaning. I told Peyton that even without meeting her yet, I loved Ann Peyton so much, and I didn't know if I could do what this strong woman of faith did. He reassured me that I would probably never have to, and I argued with him that God could call us to be missionaries in a dangerous land, but even so, that really wasn't the point. I realized that my faith was somewhat weak and something I needed to be more intentional about. So that is the first thing I took from the story. But the second is really more important. After thinking on it (worrying about it) for a few days it just HIT ME......God did just that for us! I always knew logically that God gave his "only begotten son", but never had it touched my heart in this way. As a parent, now, I am processing God's love for humanity in a whole new way this Good Friday!

Jesus, the Savior, reigns, the God of truth and love;
When He had purged our stains He took His seat above;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

I've said before that nothing has brought me closer to Golgotha than having and raising my own children. The Lord uses different things in people's lives and stories to draw them nearer to Himself and I'm certainly not saying that motherhood has been the only thing He's used. But thus for it's been, hands down, the most powerful and the most profound.

For a long time, He worked on me, helping me to realize that my ultimate hope was not in them, but also that loving Him more didn't mean I had to love them less. That was a hard thing and something I still struggle with. It's hard to realize that my hope isn't in my children's continued existence. It's easy to think that without them (and Peyton) I'd be lost. But Christ seems to be clear in the Gospels where our ultimate allegiance, and consequently hope, is to the Lord. And you know, it'd be easier to dismiss God on this if we didn't have to watch Him give his own son, broken and bloody, to the torture of the cross. For us.

So, I've kind of (most days) come to the point of putting my hope in Him. But lately he's been teaching me something else. And that is that my worth doesn't lie in them either. The other night I had endured a particularly hard day with Peyton and with the children. Usually these things happen on different occasions and it's not enough to push me over the edge. But struggles in both- my marriage and my parenting- on one day, was hard. It nearly defeated me. Then I started making this month's playlist and before it was over, I just dissolved into tears. I sobbed into Peyton's keyboard. I was so thankful that my value doesn't lie in my children's behavior or my husband's satisfaction. That my identity is found in a scourged man and an empty cave. It was such a powerful release.

I know in the next few years, there will be things that will cause me to lean on Him like never before. And I'm truly so excited about the opportunities to daily draw closer to my Lord. And I'm so thankful that two millenia ago, the temple curtain was torn in half and that opportunity was made more possible than ever before. What a wonderful God I serve!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Tunes for the Month: March

My playlist for this month is out of control. I decided I wanted to create a worship playlist- exclusive to songs written for that purpose. I've shared many times my conviction that we can find sacred in the secular, but for this month- this celebration of a Savior who is ALIVE month- I wanted something different. It got a little extensive, but I love it. Here are this month's tunes:

1. Christ the Lord Is Risen Today- The London Philharmonic Choir and The National Philharmonic Orchestra
Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

This is one of my favorite hymns to sing on Easter morning. It's just so...victorious. Rarely do I sing anything in a more celebratory fashion. And all the Alleluia's. So perfect.

2. Christ the Lord Is Risen Today- The Martins
Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

You'll notice a few songs appear more than once. I love this version because it's a cappella. 

3. Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord)- Johnny Cash
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?
Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?

This is one of those special songs that just creates a very vivid visual for me. And when Johny Cash sings those words it's like whoa. 

4. Amazing Grace/Old Rugged Cross- The Bill Gaither Trio
When we've been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun.//
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain. 

Well, Amazing Grace makes me think of funerals. But like most people, I adore it anyway. It's just one of the most beautiful songs every written, in my opinion. I like The Old Rugged Cross because it has a very Southern sound...very "camp meeting". It reminds me so much of the junior high boyfriend that was instrumental in bringing me to worship at our current church and ultimately helping me to find Jesus there. Actually, it really reminds me of his grandmother and it also reminds me of our evening worship services because we tend to sing this type (more twangy, camp meeting style) of hymns more.

5. Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross/Old Rugged Cross/At the Cross- Tom Fettke
In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever,
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.//
In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.//
Thus might I hide my blushing face
While His dear cross appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt my eyes to tears.

More songs about the cross. I love the "rest beyond the river" imagery in the first. And I had to include some more lines from The Old Rugged Cross because I particularly love the reminder that Jesus died to pardon us AND to sanctify us. Feels very Methodist and reminds me so much of an excellent book we recently read. And in At the Cross, I think my favorite lines are the ones about a heart dissolving in thankfulness and eyes melting in tears. I can think of no other reaction, personally, I've ever had on Easter morning since I became a Christian.

6. When I Survey the Wondrous Cross- FPC Studios
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

This is another one of my favorite Easter songs. What truth- we can't boast in ANYTHING but His death and the whole realm of nature would be a present "far too small". His love demands my all.

7. O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing- The London Philharmonic Choir and The National Philharmonic Orchestra
He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.

He speaks, and, listening to His voice,
New life the dead receive,
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
The humble poor believe.

Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb,
Your loosened tongues employ;
Ye blind, behold your Savior come,
And leap, ye lame, for joy.

In Christ your Head, you then shall know,
Shall feel your sins forgiven;
Anticipate your heaven below,
And own that love is heaven.

Here's the point where I just started including a general mix of hymns/worship songs I love. 
We sang this at our wedding. Not all of it. There are about a billion verses. But I love them all because each stanza seems such a beautiful representation of Scripture. I could be wrong, but I'm willing to say no other hymn makes the images of the Bible, specifically the Gospels, come alive like this one. Also, the lines "Anticipate your heaven below, And own that love is heaven" kind of give me chills. I just love them so much.

8. Come Thou Fount- David Crowder Band

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.
This is another one of mine and Peyton's favorites and we sang it at our wedding.  I love each and every thing this song asks of God. "Tune my heart to sing Thy grace"? Should definitely ask that of Him more. "Teach me some melodious sonnet"? That, too.

9. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing- Sufjan Stevens
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
I had to include two versions, because I love both of these contemporary renditions of one of my favorite classics. Bind my wandering heart to Thee!

10. Be Thou My Vision- Van Morrison

Riches I heed not nor man's empty praise
Thou mine inheritance now and always
Thou and thou only first in my heart
High King of heaven my victory won.
Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best thought by day or by night
Waking or sleeping Thy presence my light

Again, I love this song because it's a beautiful prayer set to music. I wrote (a lot) about it here, but I love how one of my favorite songs from a strictly musical point of view has such poignant lyrics. Such a powerful reminder that He alone is my "best thought" and His presence "my light".

I also have some pretty heavy memories associated with this song. My uncle, Allen, had said, at some point, that he wanted it played at his funeral. He and I had discussed our love of the song and I had told him I had the same wish. Well, when my grandmother passed away (five years ago this April), it was played.  Allen (my uncle) said later that when it started heard someone just wail. Of course it was me and he knew it. I just couldn't keep it in. I don't remember it at all, it was such an out of body experience (I was *so* close to my grandmother), but I do know my emotions were uncontrollable. I wasn't sure the song would ever be the same after that. I was terrified of what my reaction would be at our wedding when I heard it start. And there were strong emotions- I missed "Bump" deeply through every last line of it- but there weren't any hysterics. And from that point on the Lord has given me victory over my pain when I hear this beautiful song and somehow I'm able to not be overcome by it.

11. How Firm a Foundation- Festival Choir and Hosanna Chorus
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

This is one of those songs that's perfect for when I'm at my lowest.  There are several like this, but this is probably my favorite. Sometimes He calls us to go through deep waters, but what a promise- to bless our troubles and sanctify our deepest distress. I have cried a lot of tears with this in the background and I will, no doubt, shed more. I'm so thankful to whoever wrote these beautiful words (the source is debatable).

12. How Firm a Foundation- FPC Studios
When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

I should say there that I included quite a few songs done by "FPC Studios"- basically it was some kids I went to high school with who went to First Presbyterian church in Jackson. I have an old CD and I'm rather obsessed with it. Like FREAKED out and emailed Ligon Duncan (who is kind of a big deal) and a host of other people at that church when I thought it had been lost. I mentioned this lately, but in our church we talk about "grace equal to every need". It brings me great comfort knowing that His grace "shall be [my] supply".

13. Arise My Soul Arise- FPC Studios
Arise, my soul, arise; shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears:
Before the throne my surety stands,
Before the throne my surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.

Awhile back I had to write this one on the kitchen chalkboard. Something about shaking off those guilty fears is powerful. Powerful, I say!

14. Rejoice the Lord Is King-  FPC Studios
Rejoice, the Lord is King! Your Lord and King adore;
Mortals give thanks and sing, and triumph evermore;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Jesus, the Savior, reigns, the God of truth and love;
When He had purged our stains He took His seat above;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Like the first song on this list, this one just feels so jubilant and so hopeful.  Also, it's funny because when I first started listening to this CD, I had no idea that Charles Wesley had written this and the preceding song. I love when we can be ecumenical in our worship and borrow from other traditions!

15. Jesus I My Cross Have Taken-  FPC Studios
Let the world despise and leave me,
They have left my Savior, too;
Human hearts and looks deceive me;
Thou art not, like man, untrue;
And, while Thou shalt smile upon me,
God of wisdom, love, and might,
Foes may hate, and friends disown me;
Show Thy face, and all is bright.

Because yes, foes my certainly hate and friends may even disown, but in the radiance of His face, ALL IS BRIGHT!

16. How Deep the Father's Love For Us- Phillips, Craig and Dean
How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory
Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

Another perfect Easter song. This is one of my FAVORITES. Too many times I hear myself calling out among the scoffers. But how deep His love is!

17. In Christ Alone- Keith and Kristyn Getty
Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live, I live
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

Another one of my favorites and another song from our wedding.   I love the music. I love the words. It's just beautiful. Probably my favorite contemporary worship song period.

18. Go Light Your World- Chris Rice
Frustrated brother, see how he's tried to
Light his own candle some other way
See now your sister, she's been robbed and lied to
Still holds a candle without a flame
So Carry your candle, run to the darkness
Seek out the lonely, the tired and worn
Hold out your candle for all to see it.

I had to include some "action" songs because, you know, the cross calls us to action. I've been thinking about this a lot...ALOT...lately. How I can reach out to others. The tired, the worn, the lonely. Sometimes I think maybe we think we need to go search for them and the tired, worn and lonely are right there in front of us. 

19. You Put This Love in My Heart- Keith Green
I want to know where the bad feelings go
When I'm depressed and I get down so low
And then I see you coming to me and it's alright
I want to tell you right now
I'm not afraid to say how
You put this love in my heart.
Another downright jubilant song. This is what I listen to after I process things to How Firm a Foundation :)

20. Rushing Wind- Keith Green
Holy spirit, I surrender, take me where you want to go,
Plant me by your living water,
Plant me deep so I can grow.
Jesus, you're the one, who sets my spirit free,
Use me lord, glorify, your holy name through me.
Separate me from this world lord.
Sanctify my life for you.
Daily change me to your image,
Help me bear good fruit.
Every day you're drawing closer.
Trials come to test my faith.
But when all is said and done lord,
You know, it was worth the wait.
This is the song that introduced me to Keith Green. Clearly, I love him. Anyway, another great song that's become one of my prayers. "Sanctify my life." "Daily change me to your image." "Help me bear good fruit."

21. Jesus Commands Us to Go!- Keith Green
Jesus commands us to go,
But we go the other way.
So he carries the burden alone,
While his children are busy at play
Another action song. He does command it, doesn't He? Like I said, though, it looks different for everyone. For some friends, it looked like moving to Africa to be missionaries. For other friends, it looked like adopting a child. For a doctor friend of ours, it looked like free colonoscopies for the disadvantaged in our areas. But "go!" means "go!" and He tells us to be doers, not just hearers.

22. Easter Song- Keith Green
Hear the bells ringing
They're singing that you can be born again
Hear the bells ringing
They're singing Christ is risen from the dead
The angel up on the tombstone
Said He has risen, just as He said
Quickly now, go tell his disciples
That Jesus Christ is no longer dead

More Easter joy. I love Keith Green so much and this just makes me want to sing LOUD!

23. Restoration Is Your Song- Jonathon and Candi Shelton
 Through every change, in every season
we're carried in your perfect peace
with tender grace and love abounding
you can cause the waves to cease
Though we may find pain tommorow
you reach out to catch our tears
and you make things new 
you will right what is wrong
healing flows from you
and restoration is your song
When all we know falls down around us
and we feel so far from home
your love will be our heart's revival
you have claimed us for your own

Whoa. So this is a new favorite. I heard it at the adoption conference I went to recently and I feel like this song fit so many of the emotions I had over those few days. I know that one day when a sweet sister-baby or brother-baby comes into our lives this song will be playing in the background. In the meantime, it's full of applications for the here and now. 

24. Let Us Break Bread Together- Anthony Brown
Let us break bread together on our knees, (on our knees)
Let us break bread together on our knees. (on our knees)
When I fall on my knees with my face to the rising sun,
O Lord, have mercy on me.

Perfect communion song.  Perfect song for today- the Thursday before Easter. For whatever reason, I adore this song so so much.

25. Everytime I Feel the Spirit- Anthony Brown
The Jordan river is chilly and cold.
            It chills the body but not the soul.
            There aint but one train upon this track.
            It runs to heaven and then right back.
Every time I feel the spirit
Movin’ in my heart I will pray

So obviously throughout this playlist there are some "chunks". One is the RUF type stuff from high school by the First Pres kids. There's clearly a big Keith Green chunk. And here's the last chuck- Anthony Brown. He has the most beautiful voice and each of these songs from his cd, Toil and Triumph, is an African American spiritual. I just think it's beautiful and I've always love it. Peyton and I love listening to the Morehouse/Spelman choirs as well and I just can't overstate how much I love this form of music. As an aside, I'd be lying if I said listening to them hasn't started bringing to mind that one day sister-baby or brother-baby, too. A part of my heart already loves him or her and in my mind's eye, I have a little picture I dream of from time to time.  Anyway, I love this song, too.

26. I Know De Lord's Laid His Hands on Me- Anthony Brown
Did ever you see the like before?
I know the Lord's laid His hands on me,
King Jesus preaching to the poor.
I know the Lord's laid His hands on me. [Refrain]
O wasn't that a happy day,
I know the Lord's laid His hands on me.
When Jesus washed my sins away?
I know the Lord's laid His hands on me.

Such a simple truth and so beautiful. 
27. Good News! Chairot's Comin'- Anthony Brown
Good news, the chariot's coming,
Good news, oh, the chariot's coming
Good news, the chariot's coming,
Yeah, I don't want to be behind.

Another gorgeous spiritual. I don't really have much to say that would do it justice. 

28. He's Got the Whole World In His Hands- Anthony Brown
He's got you and me brother in his hands
He's got you and me sister in his hands
He's got you and me brother in his hands
He's got the whole world in his hands

We sort of think of this as a kid song, but when you hear this version, it's really not. It's just gorgeous and makes me long for more unity within the Body of Christ.

29. We Shall Overcome- Bruce Springsteen
We'll walk hand in hand, we'll walk hand in hand,
We'll walk hand in hand someday;
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe,
We'll walk hand in hand someday.

This one makes me think of the Civil Rights struggles of the '60s. It too makes me wish for more love and more unity even when we disagree strongly on some things. Also, this is neither here nor there, but I love the racial and cultural walls Bruce breaks down. For example, on his last album he had a young African American woman rapping as part of the project. Now, personally that's not a genre I usually gravitate to. But it was so well done and honestly was just painfully gorgeous and I had to applaud such a brave divergence from his usual style, knowing that for most of his fans, like me, it probably wasn't their typical taste.

30. 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)- Matt Redman

 The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes
Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

Oh my word. I heard this song at the conference, saw someone mention it on Twitter, and then heard it at our church (which was probably a God thing, because we don't do much contemporary stuff) and each time it spoke to me. I love it so much.  I was having a day last week and this song just brought me to knees.

Let me be singing when the evening comes!

Weekly Smorgasbord

My favorites from the last week or so:

On Faith:
Posted: 22 Mar 2013 07:56 PM PDT
"BUT this isn't a game, a competition of sorts. Dare we create a new legalism where we compare and compete to suffer most for Jesus. We will have enough hard without chasing it...But the message of our generation is "live radical."..And while a good number of us need to be pushed off high cliffs because we weren't living our stories because we were numb or afraid… we need to move to apartments, adopt children, change careers, dream big… most of us are obediently staying, obediently leading 15 year olds every sunday at youth group, obediently cooking for our friend who just had a baby, obediently grabbing Starbucks before a mundane day at a job we don't love, obediently inviting coworkers into our homes that may be a little too big, obediently dropping our husband's shirts at the dry cleaners, obediently taking care of sick kids or deeply sick parents, obediently living without fanfare, obediently cheering for someone else's more radical God ordained adventures, obediently joyful with easy and thankful for days that don’t hurt."

On Parenting:
Posted: 26 Mar 2013 10:09 PM PDT
"I know you're about worn out, and most days, bedtime can't come soon enough. You need a break or you feel like you will lose. your. mind. Seriously, I know. But let me tell you, it hurts to lie down next to your baby and realize just how much you missed the ball when it came to her needs. It hurts when you remember how you thought you needed to discipline her when really, she just needed you to lie down and cuddle and comfort."
Posted: 26 Mar 2013 10:03 PM PDT
"surround yourself with people who love you. people who will ALWAYS love you. people who won't remind you of the crazy crap you said when your kid had been screaming AT you for 3 solid months..for 90 SOLID DAYS. let them love you. let them bring you dinner. let them hold your baby while you shower. let them do whatever they are willing to do. and hug them. and say thank you. and do the same for them when they need it. because that's where God is. He is in the love. the kindness. the friendships. that's where we will find Him."

So much wisdom here.
Posted: 23 Mar 2013 01:59 PM PDT
"That hostility is yet another example of a puzzling disconnect in the American parental psyche. We live in an undeniable culture of helicopter parenting, in which we will go to extraordinary lengths to shield our kids from even the most remote of possible threats or discomforts. (Wipe warmers, anyone?) We worry about an endless cavalcade of potential dangers, from crib bumpers and BPA to blind cords and arsenic-laced juice boxes. And yet, many parents are bizarrely inattentive, if not downright hostile, to discussion of the single most deadly threat to our children's safety, and ironically the one perhaps most within our power to actually offset: automobiles."

On Sexual Assault:
Posted: 23 Mar 2013 09:03 PM PDT
"The worst thing for me is that you don't have to worry about the enemy, you have to worry about your own soldiers," she says...Sitting in a circle, a group of women nod in agreement. All are veterans, most have spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they're also survivors of another war. According to the Pentagon's own research, more than 1 in 4 women who join the military will be sexually assaulted during their careers..."I was assaulted while I was in boot camp in the Army, and I was raped when I went to the Navy," says Sabina Rangel, who is hosting the group in her living room outside El Paso, Texas."

So tragic.

On Emotional Pain:
Posted: 25 Mar 2013 07:30 PM PDT
"I didn't say, Oh no big deal. I'm a martyr. I can handle it. Because we usually don't do that with physical injuries. My husband said to go to the doctor. He was right and I listened to him. I got my injury looked at and cared for. I got help for my pain. But we do that so easily with emotional pain. We say that it's no big deal. It doesn't hurt that bad. I can heal on my own. I don't need help."

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. One of the best things I've read on the Internet in awhile.

On Writing and Writers:
Posted: 26 Mar 2013 10:15 PM PDT
"It is a beautiful way to approach writing, to view it as a causative expression, a medium that can change realities. Want peace? Write peace, my friend says. She might say it on a whole host of topics, really."

Posted: 23 Mar 2013 09:06 PM PDT
""I am 23 years old, six weeks on the loose in N.Y. However, I was a New Yorker for a whole year in 1930-31 while attending advertising classes in Columbia's School of Business. Actually I am a southerner, from Mississippi, the nation's most backward state....I have a B.A. ('29) from the University of Wisconsin, where I majored in English without a care in the world. For the last eighteen months I was languishing in my own office in a radio station in Jackson, Miss., writing continuities, dramas, mule feed advertisements, santa claus talks, and life insurance playlets; now I have given that up."


On Blogging:
Posted: 22 Mar 2013 07:54 PM PDT
"My blog is not a treatise. It's not an essay. It's not an argument. My blog is a space in which I share what I'm sorting through, wrestling with, figuring out right now. Right now. Today. This moment. That's all. Sometimes I tell stories, sometimes I exegete Scripture, sometimes I do a bit of both. That's what this space is. And if you don't like that, then you don't need to keep reading it. No hard feelings...I'm convinced by stories. If you want me to take you seriously, if you want me to listen to you, then you've got to put some of your heart out on the table right next to mine and really want to talk it out...This blog will no longer host or house or produce a post that is criticism or reaction. I will write only reflection and story. I will only offer myself."

I had a conversation recently with a friend about that last little part and I can only say I applaud such conviction. What a beautiful aspiration for one's writing space.

On Social Media:
Posted: 22 Mar 2013 07:56 PM PDT
HAHAHA. Truth.

Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fifteen Minutes and a Technicolor Chalk Memory


Last week, we had one of those busy days where I was trying to do too many things in too few hours. I'm working on managing my time better, but I'm also working on not loving with haste. I failed in regards to the former, but on the second count, I think I succeeded.

Peyton does deserve some of the credit, to be fair. As he was walking out the door to go to work, he mentioned that it was such a warm, beautiful day we should really go outside. I told him I wasn't sure where I'd fit that in, but as is usually the case in situations like these, it became almost a challenge to prove to myself that I could. I'm glad for it because the reward was one of those memories I'd like to freeze forever.

Annie in her soft knit sunflower dress that she adores so much. A dress I bought when she was less than six months old because it reminded me so much of my own little girl dresses. A funny thing happened in the three and a half years since I bought that little sunflower dress at the first consignment sale I ever went to- she became increasingly like little girl Sarah Denley. Like little girl SD, she loves soft faded things...muted colors...delicate patterns. Like little girl SD, she comes undone at the mercy of bothersome tags. Like little girl SD, frilly fabrics that are scratchy are quickly discarded in spite of their beauty. And like little girl SD, she's stubborn and lets her opinions be known.

Sweet girl drawing a boundary line of protection and cautiously guarding it to make sure he brother doesn't go near the street. She mothers him a lot these days and I love seeing her play a caregiver to another real live human being for the first time. She does physical tasks that make his life easier, but she also encourages and affirms him and she teaches him things like what noises each animal makes, going over and over it again with great discipline and great patience. I hope she's always doing all these things for others- serving, encouraging, teaching. I can't wait to see what the Lord does with her tender heart.

The speckled chalk that of course didn't come that way. It's all rubbed up next to each other and now each piece has little flecks of all the other colors on it. Sort of a metaphor of how I'd like our family to operate- letting other people's stories and burdens rub us in such a way that slowly we don't see near as much of just ourselves. A lesson in community from a few pieces of weary worn chalk.

Those fat boy babe fingers that grip it so tightly. Those fingers that will one day be slender and belong to the hands of a man. Fingers that will clutch the gear shift when Peyton teaches him how to drive a standard and they laugh about how his momma never had the patience for it. Fingers that will wipe sweat of his brow as he works hard to accomplish a physical goal he's set for himself sort of like that one time his momma set one for herself. Fingers that one day might grab a beautiful girl's hand and slip a ring on her own slender finger.

The new chalk from Minnie- all in the form of "treats". Annie (and Graves) remind me so often, as children are prone to do, that little things can be big things. Those new pieces of chalk just meant so much to her and her excitement was palpable. One thing I've enjoyed about monthly posting the things I love is that it further enables me to find small, tangible things that bring great delight. I truly believe that one of the things that helps me create a sense of peace around myself is allowing myself to be filled with gratitude over seemingly small things.

The homeschool notebook laid out in the sun and the reminder that memory work seems to be so much less work when your hands are full of beautifully colored chalk and the sun is hitting your back and you can just breath in the fresh air.

The mop of hair on my darling boy a day or so before a much needed haircut. I love that, for that day, he looked like he was ready for a wild rumpus....because really he always is. I love that he looked half monster himself, a wild child that often times I just can't tame. A glance at him like this- his hair almost orange tinted in the sunlight, caught mid roar- and it occurs to me that I really don't want to. Folks like him and his papa...taming their wild, roaming spirits...that's not something I'm at all interested in these days.

But then here. Just a moment later and he's all baby again. Such are our days lately. I'm thankful there's still much baby in him.

All of this LIFE happened in probably about a quarter of an hour between scrubbing dishes and going to the grocery store. Fifteen minutes that I will hold in my heart for the rest of my life- when he pulls out of our driveway the first time, when she mothers her own child, when he slides that ring on that pretty girl's finger. When any or all those things happen, I'll have this memory.

 Lord, remind me of the great reward in store when I don't love them hastily. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Weekly Happenings Post #208 (March 17-24)-- Rollercoaster of Love

Peyton and I were just at each other last week. I usually don't blog about our disagreements in a huge amount of detail, I never blog about them until they're in the past, and I never blog about them without Peyton's permission. But to me, I share about so much of our life here that to let it go under the radar it feels a little....disingenuous? Anyway, it was nothing huge in the greater scheme. Arguments about how busy we should be and that sort of thing. In the moment, they feel hard and daunting and to be honest it is a big deal that we agree on how we live out our days here, but I'm thankful we aren't disagreeing about our core values. I have to say, we fight hard, but we love hard, too. That's just us. We're both opinionated and like to have our way. We're also both sorta passionate people who feel things pretty strongly. Which, on some days, is really really hard and on most days is really really beautiful.

Monday was a hard day for me. So hard. We all got up and got ready and I packed AP's lunch and we took our family picture and were walking out the door and AP threw the fit of her LIFE about not going to school. I literally couldn't get her in her carseat. I put her in time out and Peyton and I both talked to her and then tried again. Peyton had to do it and I was so frustrated. She calmed down on the way, though, and walked in happily. She teared up in ballet, but it wasn't the thrashy, out of control fit from earlier. Anyway, I left her and headed to the CPC. I worked on inputting client files and also prof-read an email for the director. Whoo hoo!

I picked up Chick Fil A on the way home and Peyton and I talked some. We got into an argument over him wanting to pack our week even fuller. In his defense, he rarely does ANYTHING for himself, it's all ministry/missionary things or just plain helping other people. But I was wound up tight as a tick and I didn't want to hear about it. Anyway, he left and I cried some. Then I started laundry and picked up around the house and then we left to get AP. We got home and I got the kids settled and I got on the computer for a bit. It started HAILING (so weird since it had been HOT earlier) and my mom called and said she was in my carport. She had been out this way and needed to ride out the storm. We visited and I let AP get up. She helped me wax some of my furniture and I straightened the house and then Graves woke up. The storm ended and the kids were fighting so badly so Minnie left. I hung up some clothes in their room and then I did some little activities with them from this book. I fed them supper and worked on my March playlist and then we just played.
 Ballet for a Savior who is ALIVE. I was a puddle.

 I gave them baths and put them to bed. My head was hurting so bad and I was just an emotional wreck. I got on the computer until Peyton got home and we talked and went to bed.

Peyton let me sleep in and I slept super late on Tuesday. That was nice! I got up and got ready and then started laundry and dishes. I loaded up Peyton's car with the recycling while he was getting ready and did the trash and compost while the kids were eating a snack and coloring. We straightened the house and I got them dressed and then we went outside and they chalked while we worked on AP's memory work. I loaded them up and we went to Kroger for the week and then dropped something off at the library. I let them play for a few minutes and then we came home and had a late lunch and late rest time. I did stuff on the computer and then did some cooking. I cut up onions, browned meat, and made spaghetti. I got AP up in time to eat hers and cut up some veggies to take to Ultreya. I woke Bud up and put him right in the car. We ended up being late and no one ate my veggies :-/

When we got home, I fed the kid supper and put them to bed. I cooked a hamburger corn pie for Peyton with the extra meat I had browned (it's his favorite dish, a casserole thing with tons of stuff in it, that I really don't like). I read blogs and we visited when he got home. I realizes I needed to wash AP's uniform and I set several alarms on my phone to put it in the dryer in the middle of the night.

Peyton put Graves in Annie's bed after they were both asleep, just to see how they'd do. When I had tried it, he woke up. When Peyton tried it, they slept that way until I got nervous when I woke up to go to the bathroom at four in the morning. Anyway, this will be their reality in NYC, most likely :)

I got up at 7:15 on Wednesday and got myself and both kids ready to take AP to school. I even had time to make the beds! AP did great at drop off but poor Graves! He kept pointing as we walked back to the car and I asked him if he missed Annie and he just buried his head in my shoulder. When we got home I ate a quick breakfast and then I realized I needed something from Hobby Lobby. We ran in and came home and I spent most of the morning working on a seeing project. Graves played SO well by himself. I folded some laundry and did dishes while he ate lunch and then we picked up AP.
This is after I told him it was time to go pick her up. I make the same face when I think about how I get to see Cookie this week. Plus a few tears maybe. Sisters make the best friends.

I put them down and uploaded pictures to Flikr and signed up for my placement next year for Junior League. There was a survey with it and it took about forty five minutes. I ended up getting them up so I could drop them at my parents because I needed to run by Continental to get something with my machine figured out. We ate dinner with my parents and then met Peyton at home.
 Graves kept pointing at this picture of little girl Cookie and calling her "Aubrey". So sweet. Sister's friends make the best friends.

I sewed some and got on the computer and visited with Peyton.

Graves and I both had hair appointments on Thursday. Peyton's brother who works offshore asked him to go look at a camera for him in Vicksburg so he had gotten up super early to do that. Both kids got up around seven and I went in their room and asked them to just play quietly for a bit. It worked but I'm sure that was a fluke. I let them come in the den and watch Dora after about half an hour and I got ready. Peyton got home and we talked and got the kids ready and went to get haircuts. Peyton took Graves and AP home after Graves's was finished.

When I got home we just hung out until naptime. 

 He looks so grown up!

 A better view from the front.

 I asked Peyton to roll up this big down comforter and he decided to roll US up in it. Bugs in a rug :)

Peyton went into work for a few hours and I realized our Internet was down. Graves took a really short nap though. I did my Bible study while they rested. When the kids got up I read to them and clipped their nails. They played and I did dishes, scrubbed the kitchen counters, swept and mopped in the kitchen and cleaned the baseboards. We went outside and I showed AP how to play hopscotch. I fed them supper and gave Graves a bath and put him to bed. I cleaned the kitchen and practiced braiding Annie's hair and then gave her a bath. I cleaned our vanity and folded clothes. Peyton got home and promptly went to bed at 8:30 (it had been a long couple of days for him) and Annie and I did some school stuff and I put her to bed. He had told me that he was going to go to the grocery store, but I knew he needed the sleep and since our Internet was still out, I decided to call it an early night, too. I ended up going to be several hours earlier than usual after having supper and half unloading the dishes and texting Carrie and Minnie a bunch about Graves's hair.

Peyton woke up SUPER early (since he went to bed so early) on Friday. Anyway, it woke me up and we ended up having another disagreement. Hurtful things were said and I just couldn't go back to sleep. I even got Annie to snuggle with and that didn't help. I was really really hurt and was having some hard thoughts/feelings. I ended up going in the den and we talked and talked and made up. I was finally able to sleep. We had meant to get up early and run errands, and Peyton did go to the store with Graves when he woke up, but Annie and I slept late. Peyton was really sweet that morning (sweeter than he usually is which is so incredible because he's always so sweet in the mornings...morning people sort of baffle me). Anyway, I got up and got ready and then started making chicken salad and pasta salad because Carrie and Morgan and their kids were all coming over. I straightened and unloaded and loaded more dishes and put on my make-up and got the kids ready and then they got here. We had so much fun visiting and it was fun to get together with two sweet friends at once.

After everyone left, we cleaned up and I got the kids settled for a late rest time. I got on the computer and did a few things and just relaxed and when they got up, we headed over to my parents' for beans and rice. We had a great time and got home late...of course. I read blogs and visited with Peyton when he got home.
Sister memory. Big Red was my 4-Runner that I had through all of high school, college, and my first couple of married/mom years. There are days I still grieve that car. Lots more days that I grieve the six hours between me and my sister/my babies and their aunt, though.

Saturday was a fun day! Peyton was supposed to have a Kairos training thing, but the whole thing got delayed (it was supposed to be on Easter weekend) due to hail damage at the prison. I was bummed for him, but SUPER excited about the extra time together. I slept a little late and then we all got ready and went over and visited with Peyton's dad (his mom was working). We stayed longer than we had planned because we were having such a good time and then ran a few errands- Walmart and Hobby Lobby. We got home and put the kids down and I got on the computer for a bit and then we talked about our plans for the week since Peyton had taken a few days off and now he wasn't doing Kairos.
 Most days AP only gets out a few things to play with because she *hates* cleaning up messes. [I'm pretty impressed with her self-discipline, for what it's worth.] But on Saturday she orchestrated this elaborate Little People tea party.

When the kids got up, we played with them and then Peyton cooked chili that we were going to bring to church the next day for a homeless ministry and I did dishes and laundry. We put Graves to bed and then I did some school stuff with AP and read to her and it was her bedtime. Peyton fixed a toilet that was leaking and I straightened around the house and then read blogs and went to bed.
My sweet momma's boy wants nothing to do with me when his papa is home. Simultaneously breaks my heart and fills it with joy- these two took so long learning each other's ways.

Also? I fell in love with Peyton partly because he could make me laugh like this.

Sunday was Palm Sunday and Peyton was teaching and our Sunday school class was serving lunch to some homeless people at a park in downtown Jackson. Busy day. I had planned on going but one of the girls who was planning on staying with the kids at the church had a sick child, so I ended up staying. Annie was so cute with her Palm branch and Peyton did well teaching Sunday school. I had fun staying and visiting with my friend Jennifer and watching the kids at church.

The kids took late naps and AP even fell asleep. Peyton and I talked a good bit and then I messed around on Facebook. We all got ready because we were meeting some of Peyton's pharmacy friends for pizza. We ended up having a great time visiting and stayed for a couple of hours. We got home and I straightened the kids room and put Graves to bed and then we put Annie in bed. Of course, it took her until like eleven o'clock to go to sleep because of that nap. I uploaded some pictures and started some posts for later in the week and then went to bed.

Since Kairos got cancelled we're hoping to do a lot with the days Peyton has off. Well, I say a lot. Mostly work on the yard, organize things, research where to live in NYC. Nothing singularly huge, but all together an accomplishment if we'll actually get done to it. Also, Cookie is coming into town and so are Ellis and Minda. So I'm super, super excited about seeing some of my far away favorites.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Good Words

One of Annie's favorite ways to encourage her brother is to say "Bud, you're saying lots of good words." There are times when it brings a smile to my face and times when it brings a tear to my eye. I love her encouraging spirit. I love that she wants to affirm her brother in something that she subconsciously realizes he struggles with. But truthfully, I also love that in some tiny way, it confirms to me that she knows the value of words.

I hope I'm not reading too much into it, but I don't really think I am. Peyton and I have made it a goal to surround her with robust language- through our conversations, through literature, through music. Aside from her spiritual formation and the character values we want to instill, this might well be the thing that takes priority on my lists of parenting aspirations- that she will be surrounded by good words. The opportunity for increased dialogue with my children is one of the single greatest draws to homeschooling for me.

If it weren't obvious before, it's obvious now: words are very significant to me. I always knew that, but it took me until adulthood to realize just how significant they are. I remember a really special conversation with Ellis in which he talked about the sacredness of words and I thought, yes, yes exactly. And I remember reading this post about how we don't understand the value of words, or the cost and thinking yes, even as someone who loves words possibly more than anything else on the planet, with the exception of people, I don't think I take them seriously enough. But I do know their power.

I realized their power during my teenage through conversations with people I loved. I realized it again when I discovered how very much I love writing in this space. But recently I've realized their power when I fill my home with them:


 “She had always wanted words, she loved them; grew up on them. Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape.”
- Michel Ondaatje, The English Patient