Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Weekly Smorgasbord

Lots and lots of stuff that really resonated with me- faith changes in a marriage, fear of a scarcity of ideas, good words on perseverance, and what we can learn from children's speed of living. As well as not quite as signifigant but still fun stuff like font styles from the '80s.

On Faith:

A Prayer for When You're Out of Good Ideas - emily p. freeman -

"Today, the motivation is there but the inspiration is not. This might be the most frustrating part.
We want to work. We want to create and form and move into places where we’ve not yet been. But the mind feels foggy and the schedule won’t allow it and every good idea has come and gone.
Is our best work behind us? Are our most innovative ideas now in the past? This terrifies us, if we are honest."

It's scary when you feel like your ideas are drying up. I loved this prayer. 

Experimental Theology: Edging Toward Enchantment: Miracle Stories

""Basically," I said, "our church tends toward disenchantment. Because of our education and wealth. Beyond a literary analysis, we don't know what to do with a miracle story like this. But my experience out at the prison and with Freedom is very different, much more enchanted. I don't know what to do with that disjoint. I just want to make the observation that the disjoint exists. It's my opinion that this is one of the least discussed fractures in the church, the fracture between the enchanted church and the disenchanted church, which is often correlated with education and socioeconomic status. Is it possible to overcome this divide?"

 Such an interesting analysis on how wealth and privilege and such can change how we analysis Scripture- with an enchanted or disenchanted outlook. 

Blessed Are the Agnostics | Her.meneutics |

"Dealing with my husband’s deconversion has been a rocky detour on my already wayward faith journey, particularly as it concerns questions of salvation and damnation. It’s difficult to enjoy date night, for example, if you’re constantly angling to save your partner’s soul from hellfire. As a rule, I don’t try to convert my husband over breakfast dishes or any other time. For one, I know it would only alienate him further. I have to trust that God is still pursuing my husband and that it is the Holy Spirit’s role, not mine, to woo him back to faith...One of the key reasons cited in a Barna study about those who left the church was that it “feels unfriendly to those who doubt.” My husband and I are a microcosm of these cultural trends, as some of us millennials hold on to the church (me) and others split away from it (my husband). In the midst of these fractures, we need the church to ask for and value our contributions. I need the Christian community to support me as I struggle to raise my kids in a mixed-faith home, and I need it to love my husband in the midst of his unbelief. One way my church community does that is by warmly welcoming him on the rare Sunday that he shows up, accepting him just where he is with no ulterior motives."

Of course this resonated on such a deep level. First of all, yes, the whole Hell issue and the fear that evokes is one I've struggled so with. As I've said several times before, if it weren't for coming to understand God in a very different way myself during our time in New York, I think this would have broken me. Secondly, I'm very grateful for the communities we found there and the community we found here that welcome Peyton always, if and when he decides to visit. I'm also grateful for so many of our friends that attend other churches and do just the same in their relationship with us.

 On Parenting:

Fostering Open Communication with Young Kids | Steph Fisher

"If our kids ask a question, we answer it. We don’t tell them they’re too young to know about it or that it’s too complex for them to understand. We answer their questions in developmentally appropriate ways so they know they can always, always, always come to us about anything. "

 Good advice here. 

Little Things. — Coffee + Crumbs

"Because that’s the thing about the little details. They can break you; they can be the moment that suddenly highlights all the pain and chaos. But they can put you back together again, too. Piece by piece. Moment by moment. The dinner table chatter, the backyard play, the bedtime stories, the hugs and the holding. Those little things heal us, bit by bit, and they put us back together in a way that is somehow sturdier and more beautiful than we originated. Like glue holding pieces of fractured glass, reflecting the sunlight in all the broken places and illuminating spaces we didn’t see before." 

I love that last line about how children reflect light into the broken places and show us spaces we didn't notice before. 

What We Learned About Parenting At Starbucks | Brain, Child Magazine

"There’s an element of trust. They know we’re not going to ask for deep conversation in exchange for buying them a coke. Our little inexpensive outings—whether coffee or happy hour—are going to be whatever they end up being, no strings attached. Together, just hanging out as a little family.Could it be that this tradition is in part responsible for the young adults I now see sitting across from me at Starbucks discussing the current presidential campaign?We all want close family relationships. We all hope for strong relationships with our teens. Yet, if not careful, we can find ourselves going from day to day, week to week, living under the same roof but in every way disconnected from one another. Is it possible that intentionally putting everything aside to walk to the coffee shop together is also a path toward stronger family relationships?"

Interesting how a small practice can build relationships. 

Lessons from Little People: Life at Child-Speed ‹ Story Warren

"My kids’ behavior on the walking trail transfers pretty accurately to their overall approaches to life. One wants to go, explore, and conquer. The other wants to pause, study, and cherish. And unfortunately, my walking-trail behavior transfers pretty well, too: I want to control."

This was so, so good. Kids can teach us ALOT. 

On Sisterhood:

Sisterhood is Like a Poem - SheLoves Magazine

"You hid dreams behind swelling bellies and nursery rhymes. Tucked into the nooks and crannies of soup bowls and crinkled notebook paper and un-air conditioned cars, you fingered their edges with a delayed longing. The calendar flipped and yellowed. Your hair grew long and then you cut it short. In a twinkling, limbs stretched and lengthened. You now need glasses. And you are still quite smart. Of this, I am very aware." 

This was a beautiful tribute to sisterhood. Such wonderful writing. 

On Honoring Those We Don't Always Agree With:

Honor the Mothers - SheLoves Magazine

"I couldn’t help but wonder how many other women I have slighted for their contribution to the story of women, just because they didn’t come in the package I preferred? Or the language? Or the skin colour.
How many women have contributed to the story of our faith? The story of a sisterhood rising?
How many women have I snubbed? Not directly. Not in her face, ever. But subtly. Quietly. By simply not giving her my attention, my presence or any honour.I had to examine my heart.In prayer, as I imagined standing in front of Beth Moore, I realized, I didn’t look at her. I didn’t give her the honour of my face."

Oh my, this was a good word. I'm so guilty of this. I've gotten a bit more "progressive" in my thinking and I know I sometimes write people off who are more traditional in their approach. I'm so grateful for Idelette humility and for showing us a way forward in which "honor" doesn't mean we have to agree with every last damn thing out of a person's mouth. Beautiful, just beautiful.

On Perseverance:

Shawn Smucker - Three Reasons You Shouldn’t Give Up

"Waiting is hard. I’ve had two or three rejections so far on the first project, and those are not easy to receive. As the waiting continues, I find it difficult to focus, difficult to do anything but stare at my inbox, eager for the ping of the next incoming message, the potential email that will validate my writing. Validate my story-telling. Validate…me? Ouch. Rejection is difficult. Waiting is difficult. Hoping is perhaps the toughest thing of all. Yet everywhere I turn, I am being reminded that I should not give up...Stop it. Stop focusing on the dream, and start focusing on the next small step. The next chapter. The next page. The next word. Finish the business plan, the outline, the funding letter. Take the next photo. Paint the next brush stroke. Look at the path, the one that’s grown over, the one that few others have traveled before you. Then take the next step."

Focus on the next step and then take the next step. Easier said than done, but a good word for sure. 

On Gratitude:

Grateful | Steph Fisher

"And our apartment here in Michigan taught me to be grateful for a place where my kids can throw temper tantrums without the neighbors hearing. And a garage so I don’t have to put my kids’ big winter jackets on, lug them across a slippery parking lot, start the car, take off their winter coats (safety first), and buckle them into their carseats with the windchill hovering around zero. And there were amazing things about living in our various apartments. The 12th story view of downtown Chicago. The ability to call maintenance to take care of the dripping faucet. The fact that someone else mowed the lawn and plowed the snow. The lower price that allowed us to pay off student loans. But now that we’re in a house, I know how much there is to be grateful for, because we spent so much time in apartments. Our various living situations have taught me I don’t deserve to live where I want and in the house I want. That I am incredibly privileged to have always had safe, warm, dependable housing and the opportunity to make friends throughout the country. They have taught me to be incredibly grateful for what I have. And to not take any of it for granted. To be generous with others. And to never forget that gratefulness is the gateway to contentment in whatever our situation."

When we lived in Brooklyn there were SO many blessings we found there but a big take away was a lesson in gratitude for this space and for our YARD. Our house here is about 1500 sq feet and we’re about to add a third child to the mix and for the longest time (mostly because I played the comparison game) it felt not enough. Moving away and moving back totally changed my perspective.

On Memory:

Shawn Smucker - When Your Memories Are Wrong (This One Life #04)

"There was a small trailer in Springfield, Missouri, with garish furnishings, the golds and browns and reds of the late-70s clashing in an artificial sunrise, like Middle Eastern mosaics. Or maybe everything is that color in my memory because that’s the filter of those 70s photos, the golden hue clinging to everything. We lived there from 1977 to 1979, but I have three or four solid memories from those two years. It seems a paltry offering."

I loved the writing here and the idea that our memories aren't always accurate, but are sometimes more truthful than the "facts". 

On Aging: 

My hair is turning grey... — Rebecca K. Reynolds

"The slow. The soft. The yielding. The the moon. The nighttime. White cotton gowns. The smell of Noxema and Oil of Olay. A gentle hand on a fevered forehead. A kiss on the eyelids. The smell of pie in the oven.
Ever since I can remember I've also wanted to grow a moonlight garden, to fill it with white, fragrant plants, and to set a painted iron bench out among all that magic, angled to a clear view of the stars. Because while being twenty-four is a hot pink bikini, suntans, loud music, and a tight little backside, being forty-four is my favorite of all, because it is a peony and a Russian lilac under an indigo sky. This latter time is the best of all times, and better times are coming, because fifty and sixty and seventy are the Milky Way, flickers of flame in darkness. Grace in shame."

I thought this was just a gorgeous post on aging as a woman and the beauty in it. 

On Exhibitionism:

The Weary Exhibitionist |

"One reason may simply be that we’re growing tired of ourselves. The exhibitionism of our narcissistic age has flat exhausted us. We’re tapped out. We’ve discovered that though we have good things to say (we really do) and though our voice matters (it truly does), it’s exhausting to try to be as clever or profound or unique as is required to maintain the high that comes from that first hit of recognition. It’s marvelous to be seen as the smart one, the accomplished one, but pursuing such a thing will likely crush us.It’s one thing to offer what we have, with courage and without apology. It’s another thing to be unable to have a sense of ourselves apart from a steady stream of affirmation. Maybe some of us realize we’ve been promoting a life for too long; we want to get on with living it."

This gave me alot to think about as far as being "unable to have a sense of ourselves apart from a steady stream of affirmation".

On Writing:

A Cut of Reality: What I Learned While Writing Reality TV - The Toast

"In the end, what I learned writing reality TV is this: in all this mess, reality shows can hold a certain appeal—which they share with fiction and almost every other kind of narrative we come across. We hope, desperately, to find something relevant to our own lives: some small hint about how to live just a bit better, something to justify our optimism, something to show us we are not alone in what we face. A new story starts in hope and excitement, and when it begins, we see another possibility for change.
When the show I wrote for was eventually canceled, I ended my two-year stint in this strange but provocative industry. While the job wasn’t all bad, I could not imagine writing for another reality show. The longer I did, I thought, the more I would stray from the kind of writer I wanted to be: one whose chief concern was not how to make sense out of chaos, but to tell the messiest parts of life in the truest and most honest way I knew."

I always love analytical pieces like this that give me a peak at another person's experiences I usually wouldn't have. 

On Homeschooling:

How to Avoid Death by Curriculum and Co-ops | Afterthoughts

"Remember when we talked about decision fatigue? Well, the first way curriculum and co-ops can kill you is through the slow and painful death of decision fatigue. Once upon a time there were 3.5 homeschool curricula to choose from, but no longer. We now have more choices than energy, and that puts us at a definite disadvantage. I talk a lot about educational philosophy around here, and you can check out the talks in my shop if you want to think more deeply about that, but for now I just want to say that having a philosophy — a basic framework of what you think about education — can be your friend. {Whether you agree with my philosophy is beside the point.}"

It's really easy for homeschooling (honestly, more the decisions about curriculum and such than the actual teaching for me) to get overwhelming. This is a great post that speaks to that. 

Once a Month Nature Journal – Watercolors

 "Use the watercolors as a background for your nature journal entry by painting a whole page and then letting it dry before writing on it. Use the watercolors to make boxes for captions. Use the watercolors to create a border around the edges of your page."

Such cool ideas!

Fascinating Random Stuff Worth Sharing:

No Bookshelf is Complete without the Bible of American Abandonment | Messy Nessy Chic 


"“Centered in the Rust Belt, but spanning from coast to coast, north to south, and big cities to small towns, breathtaking images of nearly a hundred sites, including factories, churches, theaters, prisons, and power plants, signify the comprehensive erosion of important parts of our history. Holubow’s compelling work forces us to pay attention to formerly grand, significant landmarks and institutions that have long been ignored, and reminds us of the tragic fate that they and everything we know eventually share.”"

Weird 80s font convergence

 Motter Tektura

  Motter Tektura 

Notice the fonts. Interesting!

Stories Worth Sharing:

Issues in Backyard Gardening | Brain, Child Magazine

"Inside the house, Faulkner puts the basket on the counter next to the phone. The landline barely rang anymore; she and Charlotte and Zvi all had their own phones, but there was the message pad ready and waiting, a symbol of yesteryear with its sturdy connected pages, While You were Out written in jaunty blue script on the top of each one. Faulkner sets the squash one by one into a dented metal colander in the sink, water sloshing over the tops. Delilah crosses her arms. “I thought you were going to leave them for later?”
This startles Faulkner as though she’s been caught doing something tawdry and she can feel the blush creep across her neck onto her collarbone. “Oh, right! I just…” she notices the numbers scrawled on the message pad, and though she realizes they would be as mute to Delilah as Zvi’s discrete math is to her, she flips it over when she turns the water off."

Wonderful writing and story sharing! 

Noteworthy Quotes and Soundbites:
"To simplify things I'm thinking of only using Facebook for news and info this summer, I predict that by July I'll be a Bernie-supporting BeachBody coach who uses essential oils to protect me from my paranoia about Obama changing my gender." -my hysterical friend Adam Oliver

Noteworthy Images:
 potholes in Jackson on point

Even my OB and the nurse last week were like "didn't expect you to make it to this appointment". Grrr.

Enjoy the week and the links! 

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