Saturday, May 28, 2016

Weekly Smorgasbord

I realized that in this installment, a lot of things actually tie together. Courage and disappointment in regards to pursuing our dreams. The fear of not being perfect and a maybe slightly low risk way to explore our callings. Whew. LOTS of good stuff!

 On Faith:
"If a man who professes himself a Christian is asked why he believes Jesus to be the Christ, his position is much more difficult, since he cannot believe this without meaning that all who believe otherwise are in error, yet at the same time he can give a no more objective answer than the lover: "I believe because He fulfills none of my dreams, because He is in every respect the opposite of what He would be if I could have made Him in my own image." Thus, if a Christian is asked: "Why Jesus and not Socrates or Buddha or Confucious or Mahomet?" perhaps all he can say is: "None of the others arouse all sides of my being to cry 'Crucify Him'.""

This was a good and true word, I thought. 

Where two Corinthians gather - Chicago Tribune

"Back in the day, before caller ID and credit cards, when people drank water out of the tap and there were four TV channels and your mom kept left-over boiled potatoes in plastic dishes with snap-on lids, we perhaps had a clearer understanding of shame. Back then, if you threw your mother down the stairs because she wouldn't buy you a watch with real jewels on the face, you would be expected to plead guilty, sob in the courtroom and take your punishment. You wouldn't claim that you didn't push her that hard, or that as you pushed her you felt the Lord's Presence...But that was then and this is now. Now you use your faith to build your brand and eventually you monetize it. I say, whatever lights your candle. For me, what works is high Anglican, a modest rector, not overly jovial like a game-show host, an organist who knows his place and liturgy with some long silences in it. “Be still and know that I am God,” He says...So let's. God speaks in the stillness. For that reason, friends of mine prefer a walk in the woods to a place in the pews. Good for them. Enter into the woods with thanksgiving and into the pasture with praise. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endures to all generations. And wherever two Corinthians are gathered together, there He is in the midst of them."

Beautiful and humorous words. Love me some Garrison. And I'll be honest- I'm glad we've carved out the kind of lives for ourselves where we drink tap water, have four television channels, and snap lids on plastic containers of overcooked vegetables.


Moved to Wonder | winncollier.comMoved to Wonder

" If there is nothing in our faith that drops the jaw, that moves us to inexplicable laughter, that unravels our sense of things…If our vision of God never hurls us to our knees or gooses us in sheer pleasure — we should return to the old stories and hear them again."

 What a reminder. I want to be captivated by the wonder more.   


The Daily Work of Hope | The Reluctant Sojourner

"And so, I must do the hard work of turning from myself and turning to Christ, the source of ultimate joy and satisfaction. It’s not easy. Jesus isn’t a quick fix to a perfect life or a continual intravenous drip of happy. But looking to Jesus, the author and perfector of my faith, I can boldly say, “I can’t, but You can.” I can’t do this day. I can’t take one more question, one more failure, one more thing to stress over.
I can consider him who endured and know in Christ’s power I can endure. And this faintheartedness, this despair to give into sin and apathy—the vanity of life, I can look to Christ and see how he endured for the sake of joy and I too can endure."

Timely, y'all.

On Parenting:
"This kind of goes along with having something else for them to do. I'm an introvert and am easily overwhelmed if I'm around too many people. And some of my kids are this way. We let them know that if they need a break, they can tell us, and we'll help them out. Often this means they go in our room and read or watch something by themselves. Sometimes, they just need to tell me and snuggle for a few minutes. Either way, we recognize that our kids need breaks from people, too."

These are great tips. Sometimes it's messy with kids, but it's worth the effort!

"Another thing he had said recently was that the world operates, and therefore parenting operates, under the axiom "I love you but." I love you but you need to stop doing that. I love you but you're not measuring up. He had said that grace reverses that order, that it can do the same for us and our children: "You did this but I love you." I had tried it out the next week, on a walk with TK and Little Brother, when TK seemed determined to throw every article of his clothing out from the stroller and onto the street. The first time I said the words–you did this but I love you–I actually gagged a little, choking on my own inability to extend grace. He gave me plenty more opportunities to give it a shot. It's becoming easier now, and something shifts within me each time the words are uttered. They're not just for him, it turns out. "

This does sound like a good, and a hard, practice. I need to give it a shot!

On Disappointment:

 Shawn Smucker - Could Disappointment Be an Indicator that We are Right Where We Need to Be?
 "Almost three months ago, my wonderful literary agent Ruth began approaching publishers about my book The Day the Angels Fell, the very same project that you all helped fund on Kickstarter almost a year and a half ago. Ruth read it and loved it and thought she might be able to find a home for it, so we sent out a book proposal to publishers. Initially, the response was strong. One publisher was immediately interested. I thought it was going to get picked up. I thought my longest-held dream, of being a novelist with a publisher, was about to come true.
But then the weeks passed. We still haven’t heard back from the first publisher. In the mean time, I received a kind rejection from one of my favorite publishers who said “the writing is absolutely beautiful, but…” Always “but.” Right now there are two houses still considering it. Can I be honest? I’ve felt a lot of disappointment in this process. The waiting has nearly paralyzed my creative ability. The weeks of silence and the few rejections (and even the vast, empty nothingness of no reply) rip at some raw place I didn’t know existed in me. I went into this feeling like a relatively self-confident person, someone who could take or leave whatever might happen, but I’m learning a lot about myself. I’m learning I’m not as confident as I thought I was. I’m not as independent as I thought I was. I crave this “one last” approval more than I thought I did...And is it possible that the location of my disappointment leads me closer to the location of my true hope?

Gracious, this resonated. I wrote an entire post on this, but recently really “put myself out there” in a couple of different ways. One was with a writing thing, one was with a teaching job. One worked out and one didn’t. But both did help clarify (and drive me to think about further trying to clarify” what I desire to be doing with my life and what that could look like logistically while still being home a good bit while my children are small. I hadn’t thought to articulate it the way Shawn did, though, and I think that was a further help.
On Courage:
I’m Afraid Of Seeming Forward - SheLoves Magazine
 "In the email to the very mere acquaintance, I said, “At the risk of seeming forward …” as I asked for the favor. I liked the anachronistic ring of it, and also it was the most honest thing I could think to say to him. Give me a hoopskirt to hide behind, and I would feel much safer. Give me some rules like velvet ropes to constrain me and I could let go of my dreams like helium balloons with a little sigh of relief. Decorum would let me off the hook of bravery. Instead, balloons clutched in my hand, I am wading out into battle. Battle with my ego and a long habit of hiding. Battle with the lie of self-sufficiency. Battle with decorum and inoffensiveness. Battle with fear. I am bushwhacking. I am clearing ground in a forest for my dreams to take root."

This all resonated so deeply. I've lived all but eighteen months of my life in the deepest of the deep South and it's so hard for me to get away from these ideas/ideals where I'm a not forward and not brave but also totally put together and self-sufficient. In fact, it wasn't until we lived in Brooklyn for eighteen months that I finally learned to let others help me and not feel embarrassed about it. Again,I recently did some uncomfortable things. Really put myself out there. So scary and difficult and I was pretty terrified. It was so hard to really let myself be seen.

On Authenticity:

Authenticity Trumps Perfection. Every Time. | Jennifer Dukes Lee 

"You want to know what turns people away? Your try-hard attempts to make it look like you’ve got it all together. Because if you’ve got it all together, then approximately no one can relate to you. We need the real you. I need the real you. And if I’m going to live in freedom — out from under my desk — I need to be the real me. If you’re like me, un-gospel thoughts tempt you every day to strive toward self-preservation and impression management. Let’s learn how to spot the danger signs in ourselves. At the core, our desire for perfection isn’t about wanting to get it right. It’s about wanting to save face. It’s about fear. We’re afraid we’ll look incompetent. We’re afraid people will be repelled by our messiness. But more than our perfection, people want our realness. They want the real us, the messy us, so they know they’re not alone. And more importantly, that’s who God wants. He wants the person He created, not the fiction we try to manufacture."

This feels close to some of my thoughts in another post I'm working on. We don't want to fail. We don't want to look stupid. We want to have it all together. But the world doesn't need that and Jesus wants better for us than false perfection. 

On Calling:

"So I propose an alternative, a compromise between doing nothing and picking the wrong dream: Make a seasonal commitment. Choose something that strikes your fancy based on the possibility that it could be your dream. In other words: Experiment. Not in a flaky, noncommittal way. Pick something, and commit to it for a season. Call it a seasonal dream if you want. Iterate on it until you reach a point where you know this is what you should do or not. Then go deeper or move on. This will give you experience, broaden your skill set, and teach you the value of commitment."

A seasonal commitment- what a cool idea!
On Living Life and Growing as a Person:
"Our quotidian days' everydayness can numb our senses. It's easy to forget about that good lotion, the bone china, the silk skirt. There's spit-up to contend with. Traffic to fight. null I say, let's make this season of our life—whatever it is—just a bit more special with the special things we tend to save. Let's break out the good plates for pizza night, for a quick snack. Bring out the "fancy guest" towels for your family. Spritz on perfume for the grocery store. Use fancy pens to write our to-do lists."

I love this. I recently used our "nice" napkins at the kids' birthday party (they're still casual and funky but they are my "good stuff" as far as not being a) the ones our family uses daily and b) not being a paper product. My mom said "those will probably get stained" and I said yes, I know. But I want to use the things I love and not just stash them away. Even if it requires more effort to wash them later and even if it requires me allowing them to get dirty and stained by my precious friends' pizza greasy hands. Because that's what napkins are for! 

"There is so much power in understanding how God made us, what drains us, what fills us, and what our strengths and weaknesses are. There is so much freedom in understanding our current circumstances, our time, our relationships, and our resources. This simple step of self evaluation has the power to transform our yearly resolutions, our goal setting, our stress level..our lives. It keeps us from choosing ill fitting, frustrating solutions."

This is really good. Sometimes just having a plan and some concrete action steps is exactly what we need to move forward.

On Encouragement and Hospitality:
"That single awkward moment on the ferry was the most spiritual part of my whole week. It wasn't grand or dramatic. It didn't bring anyone to Jesus. And maybe the shampoo commercial Venezuelan woman didn't ever think about it again. But for me it was a beacon—a reminder to see people. That day I decided I would let more women know the kind and quirky things I think about them. It takes a brave kind of insanity to walk around the world grinning at strangers and telling them their green pants are cool and their big hair is stunning and that they have the kindest smile you have ever seen. But why the heck not?"

I have a friend (well, several) who are so good at this. I remember several years ago I began praying "Use me this way" because I wanted to encourage so badly myself. I should start back with that! 

"I recently came across a phrase in Paul's letter to the Corinthians that I'd never noticed before, where he makes a plea to his Greek friends– friends he and his coworkers had put their whole hearts into teaching and loving. He says to them: "Make room in your hearts for us." And I just fell in love with this idea of making room. It's essentially like what we do around the table when we invite others over to eat with us. We pull up a few extra chairs, squish a couple people in on the slightly-too-tall piano bench, grab the old high chair out of the garage, pull out the extra set of silverware."

I too, love the idea of making room.  At certain times, I do think it requires more sacrifice, but I truly believe it to be worth it.

On Books and Museums:
"The characters and themes of the book transcend time and culture. It appeals to the higher ideals nad virtues of the human heart, mid, and experience that are meaningful from one generation to another. It is not dated by too many passing cultural terms and references."

This is a really great litmus test, in my opinion. And yes, sometimes I'm going to let them read more junky stuff (not bad stuff, but just not quality literature) but on the whole I want to be giving them really good material to take it.

"If I had the choice, I would always choose to visit a museum inside out– that is, take a backstage tour of what they don't display, which in most cases, is much larger than what is actually on display. And we're not talking about 2 to 3 times larger, we're talking about secret collections that are 99. 9% larger, hiding behind the museum walls…"

Yes! So cool. 

 On NYC:
"If you're up for discovering some of the most impressive off-beat spaces you'll likely ever see in your life– this is what they do. It's a small community that gets you into the places you normally couldn't and tells you the stories behind them."

Fascinating, right?

On Fashion and Syle:

Outfit: Emily & Fin Harlequin Print 

"Comfortable can be warm clothes on a brisk day, or shoes that don't give your feet blisters--good things, to be sure, but they don't necessarily mean pieces you really like and appreciate beyond the physical needs of being clothed. "At home" seems much more apt for what I mean, since your home is often your private sanctuary from the world; the place where your heart rests and you craft to suit your whims and lifestyle. When you wear clothes that also have that feeling in them, then it's almost as if you can carry a bit of your home or world on your back. (Like a hermit crab, but more poetic!) So this outfit feels like one of those sorts to me; an outfit I feel I could go almost anywhere in, that carries some gossamer layer of confidence and security woven into the fabric."

 I love this idea in regards to clothing choices and I love how Rebecca has become a little more analytical in her writing and shares more ideas behind her clothing choices (which I've always loved so much!).   

On Cooking:

Easy Cooking Tricks | A Cup of Jo

 "Restaurant salads always seem perfectly dressed, and Blue Apron says you just need to do a few things to get the same result at home. Here are the steps: Let your greens dry completely; use a bowl big enough to fully toss your salad; season the greens with salt and pepper, which adds great flavor; and then use small, gradual amounts of dressing, tossing with your hands in between dollops, until you thinly coat every leaf. (Blue Apron says the biggest rookie salad mistake is putting on too much dressing.)"

Great tips!

On Allergies:

Jackson is literally number one. Um, this explains a lot.

History Worthy Sharing:

The Most Beautiful Car Race that Ever Was | Messy Nessy Chic

"Every year on race days, which were treated like a national holiday, villagers gathered in the streets, set up their furniture on the sidewalks or even on the roads, played cards and drank Martini, waiting to cheer on the racers as they whizzed by."

targaflorio9targoflorio19targaflorio8So wild.


Noteworthy Quotes:

"In my never to be humble opinion: you can hold to a conservative sexual ethic and still advocate the ordination and inclusion of women that the Scriptures testify to and the anti-racism that the Scriptures testify to. Careful what you label liberal, and more careful still the assumption that liberal is somehow automatically unorthodox." -Preston Yancey

Enjoy this week's links! 

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