Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Weekly Smorgasbord

 This is a good list, guys! Among other things seeing each other and reaching out, the end of an era in parenting, family size discussions, how to fight human trafficking, and a color thesaurus!

On Faith:
"I believe in the God of the “seen and unseen.” No question there. But I am wondering why I have always relegated the “unseen” to theological concepts with specific names. God is unseen. The Holy Spirit is unseen. The spiritual forces of heaven and hell are unseen. Yes. Of course. But I think I have underestimated the scope of the unseen. We are plunging, even now, through a sea of unseen realities, of plans set in motion, of consequences yet to be reaped and payments yet to be made. Behind the scenes, all around us, are seeds germinating in darkness, promises riding on the winds, investments growing by pennies and nickels. And all completely invisible. A whole universe alive with almosts and not-yets and on-its-ways. An unspeakably magnificent, unspeakably complex work in progress. When did I become a materialist? When did I start demanding to see the numbers, to hold the evidence in my hands? Perhaps when I decided that the enthusiastic support of a million avid readers was more valuable than a shot of courage or a ray of hope for a single reader. Perhaps when I decided that my children’s stories were nearly complete, that my time of influence was running out. But who am I to say what fruit will grow from the miniscule seeds of my faithfulness today? I have cheapened the unseen, downgraded it to a consolation prize. While professing faith in the God of the unseen."
"My heart was convicted, healed and set free by the beauty of a Savior who dies to reconcile everything and everyone on a rugged cross. To bring it all together again. To make wholeness. To bring close what we have ripped apart. Jesus reconciling our horizontal relationships—us with each other. Humanity. Jesus reconciling us within our vertical relationship—children and God. Glory."
"“I hope to see someday, so I am taking pictures of all the places I visit so I will be able to see them then.” Ali was taking action on future belief. His hope compelled him to do something now. These two questions are still ringing in my head: For what am I hoping? And, What am I doing about it?"
"After reading the story I asked the students, "Why do stories like this go viral?" They go viral, I argued, because we see the kingdom of God in stories like this. When we see something like this it feels so right, so good. This, we say, is what the whole world should be like. And yet, far, far too often we take a pass on kindness. Yes, this is the way the world should be. Yes, this is the way we should be. But we don't practice kindness. Much to our and the world's determinant."
"We live in amazing times. By all objective standards humanity lives better than ever before. Things are not getting worse. They’re getting better at an accelerating rate. And before we bemoan the demise of “religion,” we should look, as Wesley did, to see if the evidence of “true religion”—love of neighbor, benevolence, compassion toward all the forms of human woe, public charity, the practice of justice, mercy and truth—justifies that claim."
"By all means, debate. Have strong opinions and back them up. But, do not bundle them together with the core commitments of our faith (Christ, Trinity, salvation, and the call to Spirit-driven holiness) and call it evangelicalism. Doing so does great harm to the gospel. In this way, unbundling the extraneous issues (without letting go of core commitments!) will continue to be a major challenge."
On Love:
"Sometimes—even a lot of the time—it’s easier to love others than to love ourselves. And that’s because we’re unavoidably aware of our own flaws and fears and failures. We live everyday with the qualities we deem to be unlovable. We know the lousy things we’re capable of doing, the horrible things that cross our mind that we hide from others. We see the bad in us and the good in others. But maybe that’s because we’re usually not invited into seeing others at their worst. We have other people up on a pedestal because our vision is limited to only observing their “good” days, their measurable career success, their picture-perfect photos on Facebook. Most of the time, we don’t get to see their flaws and fears and failures. We don’t see the painful family conflict, the addictive behaviours, the mistakes and shame that they, too, try to hide."
"I think most of us understand love on an interpersonal level. The love of our mothers. The love of our fathers, sisters, and brothers. The love of our partners and best friends. The love of our classmates, coworkers, and neighbors. But what about communal love? Systemic love? A love that arcs toward justice for all? I’m desperate for that understanding of love right now, in what seems like such a tumultuous time for my country and the rest of the world. I wouldn’t say that I feel love for America. More often, when I’m watching cable news at night, or listening to public radio on my drive to work, or scanning my twitter feed in the morning, what I feel is frustration. Embarrassment. Fear. Anger. Rage."
On Sacred Centers:
"Many Native American cultures call beavers, or the habitat they create, the “sacred center of the earth.” Their dam building creates a place where life can flourish in all its extravagant diversity, the pools they create are a haven difficult for predators to reach and do harm. But more than that, wetlands are a place of repair and restoration. It is the beavers that set things right again, beavers that create or mend the center, create a place for the living to become strong. I think of how the beavers protect themselves. How I come to this place because it offers me protection, it is home. The blackbirds and herons and beavers, are all reminiscence of my childhood home in the Midwest, the places near our house I would ride a bike to and hang out for an afternoon reading or sorting things out in my head, especially the mean girl middle school years, the years that loom straight ahead for my son. Those mean girl years stung, and still do. I’m still loath to admit the bullying and ostracizing that took place years ago. I feel a shame creep in, as if I deserved whatever was dished out, that what they said was true, all of it. It’s taken me twenty years of adulthood to recognize cruelty for what it is, to know it and name it, to take action against it.
On Human Trafficking:
"Get involved in the local foster care system. Anywhere between 50-90% of child sex trafficking victims in the U.S. were involved in child welfare services (source). Churches can help protect at-risk youth by supplying volunteers for local child welfare agencies or supporting families who decide to become foster parents...Serve ethically sourced goods. Choosing to serve fair or direct trade coffee before or after church services—instead of supporting companies notorious for using slave labor, like Nestl√©—is one step in the direction of fostering a church with zero tolerance for slavery. Camano Island Coffee Roasters provides free shipping to coffee club members and gives 10% from every purchase to the Set Free Movement." Simple (though not necessarily easy) ways for the church to fight human trafficking.
On Ending Eras:
"Those years are now behind me. They are years that were as frustrating as they were joyful, but I have no doubt that the filter of nostalgia will eventually render them perfect. There’s no token I can hold—no lock of hair or beloved blanket—that will actually bring those years back. That era has come to an end with no clear warning, no announcement. This is of course, the way of things. To say goodbye, I must turn around and wave to the thing that is already gone."
On Family Size:
I thought this was really interesting. Going from one to two children was definitely harder than going from zero to one for me. One of my best friends who has FOUR, though, says zero to one was the hardest transition. I think for us it was a mix of my personal expectations as well as my two children's newborn/infant temperaments. I was a lot more scared round one and so I prepared myself a lot more. But then Annie was super chill. Graves was more high needs and I wasn't as scared out of my mind. Plus, I was really, really unprepared for how difficult the transition would be for Annie. It'll be interesting to see how it goes with round three =)
On Being a Stay at Home Mother:
"How old were you when that happened? I was 35. Most women plunge into poverty when they divorce. It’s hard to get back into a career. Two things I noticed in the decisions made by the women in that article. I think for most of them, the husband made the final decision. I never had a husband who told me not to go to work. Your dad had no need to exert power at home. He did that at his job. He knew to leave his “boss hat” down the hill, before he entered the house. He was somebody important elsewhere. Number two, every single one of those women defined themselves by what they do. When you do that, if you no longer have the career, you have nothing."
On Simplicity:
"I think my desire for simplicity, at its core, is a desire for right priorities. I am a wife and a mom. I am also other good and worthwhile things, and I strive to be excellent in those roles. But sometimes, I complicate my life by attempting to do and be everything to everyone perfectly. Motherhood is hard enough without adding to it the stress of being a flawless amalgamation of every other mom on the planet. I’m craving simplicity – getting rid of both the external and internal clutter in my life so that I have the space to focus on what’s most important. "
On Seeing Each Other and Reaching Out:
"As she ascended the stairs one of the great men in our church, a teacher in her class noticed her and stopped to ask her, “Are you OK?” That one brief encounter made all the difference as it cemented a powerful truth into her young heart. It was a moment that created safety and trust, because that day somebody took the time to notice her and let her know “I see you.” She went on to tell us that our church community had become family to her throughout her childhood, her teen years and now in her adulthood. She told us that there had never been a single day that she didn’t know for certain that she was loved here. The Gospel has always been about seeing each individual person."
A February Dare
"The times we’re feeling most alone are often when we most assuredly hold the key to unlocking someone else’s pain. What if, instead of suffering through until Spring, we pulled on our ugly boots and walked together through our winter? Let’s say yes to that meeting when we’d rather say no. Let’s linger over tea and lean in to the story. Let’s finally start believing it’s our weak, messy, jiggly places that unite us. I February-dare us. Are you lonely today? Hungry for a safe companion? Could you use a virtual loaf of banana bread — a reminder of God’s goodness in the land of our living sisterhood? Reach out in the comments. I’ll be there reaching back, and I’ll bet I’m not the only one."
On Decision Making:
"A little more information than however much I have always seems like it would make a decision easier, clearer, and ultimately, less scary. I get a kind of faux-comfort from these mulling-marathons. I can’t give up my perpetual fretting about if something is a good choice. It’s tempting to think that if I put in my time dissecting something from every angle and polling everyone I know, then challenging consequences can be completely avoided or, at the very least, not be my fault. Instead, I could benefit from carrying more of this card-playing attitude of, “hey, I know enough to start, and I’ll bet I’ll have what I need to figure out what to do next” into my real life."
On Writing:
"I keep learning again and again the importance of moving at the speed of write — handwriting, I mean — that drawing and writing are more valuable to the learning process than photographing and typing {even though I love to type}. I’ve said before that I think my best blog posts were originally written out by hand. For all of my book clubs, I write everything out by hand as my prep. This always works for me."
On Fun:
Such a great idea! Of course it helps if you live in NYC, but I bet I could easily think up twelve unique, fun ideas in Jackson =)
Humor Worth Sharing:
"Are you ever more excited about uploading a vacation album than you are about going on the actual vacation?"
Interesting Miscellaneous Stuff Worth Sharing:
Oh wow, this is too cool.
Revised Pink_Color Thesaurus

Noteworthy Quotes:
Someone said, "quit giving him so much attention and he'll go away." He's not going away. He's the personification of America's sickness. It's time for us to make public statements from whichever podium, platform, or pulpit we have. I am a father, a lawyer, a writer, a Christian, and a centrist from the South. I stand against Donald J. Trump. He is violent. He is cancer." -Seth Haines

Noteworthy Images:

Noteworthy Videos:

pretty classy

Enjoy, y'all! 

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