This is What I’m Into- July 2013 Edition

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Once again I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer for another edition of “This is what I’m Into.”

Month in (super brief) review:  July wasn’t marked by any massive changes.  We celebrated fourth of July, I worked a lot, we swam a lot, Caedmon got stitches and then Kel and I went to camp at Timber Wolf Lake.

Favorite Moments: Watching the kids play with sparklers at the fourth of july and getting pictures (on my phone!) that looked like the belonged on the front page of the paper.

Random family date night at Lake Michigan, where Caedmon found a minion in the lake and Noelle found a gluten free bun at the 8th Street Grille.

The High Ropes course at Timber Wolf Lake and the ensuing laughter when my “step” off 946312_527554430667_1871061970_nthe platform looked more like a squirrely seizure.

Reading List- With increased hours at work, more guest posting and starting an Etsy store…  July left little time for reading.  And it was far, far, far too busy.

So in August we will be making some changes at the Casa such as scheduling reading time until it becomes a habit and moving our TV downstairs and dropping down to just one TV set again.

I will say that I did spend the month making my slow way through Barbara Kingsolver’s The The Poisonwood Bible(finally) but I’m only 1/3 of the way through so it doesn’t count and I still don’t have as great a feel for it.

 On the Small Screen:  These days we seem to only watch TV as the background noise for doing something else, so when I’m doing a lot of rug making or sewing, I have the TV on the in the background.  It’s one of my favorite ways to chill.  I relax in this somewhat noisy, multi-tasking way nearly every afternoon for about an hour.

This month I’ve been re-watching Arrested Development from the beginning and laughing. A lot.

Also I gave The Walking Dead a try with Kel and I have to say that the story line is great but the zombie parts make me want to curl up in my momma’s lap.  I don’t enjoy the undead and I think that’s okay.

July 2

On my playlists: This has been a great month for new music, mostly thanks to listening through the Parenthood Soundtrack on Spotify.  You should check out these tracks

Human After All – Michael Logan.
Somehow this song seems to sum up my entire July “Chase that sunset til we’re blind, and wake up to find, we are only human after all.  We are only human after all.”

Today has been OK – Emiliana Torrini
Another song about life, love and the stuff of life… mostly for melancholy moods, which I’ve sort of been in.  Can’t you tell?  

Shine On – The Kooks.
Because when you’re done realizing how you’ve messed up.. you gotsa have something upbeat to move you along.

St. Judy’s Comet – Paul Simon.
Because it reminds me to focus on my kids and not so much on whatever is stressing me out.  

Best Bites:  I made up some white chicken chili and for some reason it was pure magic in the middle of the summer.

Other than that it’s just been a lot of fresh blueberries and turkey wraps because July was busy.  Too busy.

Although there is this Salsa recipe.  I call it Salsa ala Betsy, because it’s a recipe from my Aunt Betsy… who I dearly love.

Take a jar of salsa.
Add a chopped pepper (color of your choosing but I go red, yellow, orange.. sweet)
Add a can of sweet corn (or whatever corn you have on hand, but this is easiest.)
Add a can of black beans
Add a chopped, ripe avocado.

Eat this for lunch and feel great because you’ve eaten protein AND veggies while standing at the counter.

Craft July

Non Verbal Creativity: I think the pies de resistance of my rug making thus far was this inset heart rug, which ultimately went to the home of my dear friend Allison.

Also! I scored some fantastic furniture from the side of the road and have big plans to up-cycle it for either sale or personal enjoyment.

Random Love For:  Mary Kay Lash Love Lengthening Mascara.  I don’t spend too much on makeup but I’ll invest in eyelashes that feel so long you could poke people with them.

On the Blog / Writing: Well most of you know this, but I had a viral post with Relevant Magazine.  It was shared on facebook over 2,200 times as of the writing of this post.  I cried the entire day it was being shared because redemption of my pain is the hope of my storytelling.  So… yeah lots of tears.

Other than that, my most popular post here was my big, exciting, Young Life Announcement where I told you all about how I’m fundraising to come on staff with the Western Great Lakes Region of Young Life to do their writing and social media.  So. Excited.

So now it’s your turn, what are you into, up to, all about? 

This post contains links to my Amazon Affiliates Page.  Clicking through and making purchases supports this blog, and that makes me pretty happy, really.

Why I read Candy Fiction (that really isn’t in the end)

I’m quite loyal to my friends so when they host a link-up or a carnival, I do my best to get involved.

So when my dear friend Anne introduced her “The best book you’ve never heard of carnival” I wanted to hop on board.

It was then that I had to face the fact that I am the sort of reader who jumps on board with what everyone else is reading…. when it’s already popular.

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My bedside stack isn’t shocking or obscure in the slightest.

This is something I’d like to change, but haven’t yet.

 

So… I’m fudging it a little today because I’m not too sure that my “little known” book is all that “little known.”  However, I did text Modern Mrs Darcy herself who had never heard of either the book or the author so I’m using that as my street cred to proceed.  

I can honestly say that few of my friends have heard of or read this book.  

I grew up as an avid reader but took a really long (and sad) break in twenties.  Reading was a good habit that I fell out of and am now marching my way back into.

My cousin Katie was a big part of my journey back to reading simply because she gave me a huge stack of books one Christmas after we chatted about how I missed reading.

This pile contained a lot of Anita Shreve (her favorite), Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes.

I started my way through them, although I must confess I never really gave Sophie Kinsella a try after seeing the movie “confessions of a shopaholic.”  Maybe I’m missing out, tons of women love her, am I ?

These books were definitely what you would consider women’s fiction, which is a genre that some serious readers look down on.

But I need them sometimes and here’s why:  My life is too serious sometimes and I need a book that is an escape from my problems.  I need a book that sucks me in with it’s characters and their drama causing me to either:

A) forget my own  OR
B) realize that my own aren’t all that bad after all.   Continue reading

That Thing You Do.

“Oh Lord, our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth. “

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For my entire life I read this verse and figured it was about mountains, sunsets and jungle flowers so exotically that it’s difficult to believe that they’re real.

But these days I think that mountains paint a weak picture of God’s majesty, compared to the wonders of his children.  And this is a bold statement coming from me because I seriously love the mountains.

Lately I wonder if God’s name is worshipped the fullest and most powerfully when his children discover their passions and are brave enough to go through with them, to pursue them, to embody his creative-splendor with their hours of their lives.

Maybe in this way, worship isn’t so much about a song on Sunday but about faithful hands but about being fully ourselves for our Father throughout the week.

Being brave enough to listen to that whispering voice inside.  The one that says:

“You know that thing you love to do?  Do that.  Do it for Me, with Me. Do it as your life’s work, even when you’re feeling scared and too small.  Those feelings are the enemy, he wants no part of this beauty.  He wants you in hiding, to keep my beauty and love contained.”

Now that I’ve opened my eyes to this concept, I see people’s passionate hearts as beautiful worship, I tear up at all the gifts and wonder God poured into his people.  Slam poetry? Glass blowing? Perfect violin solos?  It’s all too much, it makes me wonder why I bother with Mascara anymore,  life’s too beautiful to stay dry-eyed. Continue reading

One Small Change: Fresh Eggs and Buckets of Blueberries (a guest post for Addie Zierman)

If there is one thing in out lives that has become overly complicated, it’s our food.  We’re confused and constantly bombarded with opposing opinions on what we should eat t many of us have given up in resignation by ordering another pizza with a side of “screw it.”

One of the coolest parts of being a blogger is the potential for blog crushes to turn into real-life friends.  It’s encouraging, needed and it makes feel like pulling a Sally Fields (you like me!  You really like me!)

Anyway… that’s what happened with my sweet friend, the amazingly prolific Addie Zierman.  And today I’m guest posting at her place for her One Small Change Series, which is all about combatting the overwhelming need (and guilt) that exists in our world regarding social justice and the environment with small, doable changes.  Here we go.

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Jerry Seinfeld put it best when he said: “Food is just so complicated as an adult. Nobody knows what to eat: protein, carbs, fat content?  We’re just walking up to each going “you look pretty good, what are you eating? Maybe I’ll eat that.”

Preach Jerry.

In fact, I have a good solid bet that this is how you came across every diet plan you’ve ever adopted. You had a friend who seemed passionate about a way of eating and rather than research it, you just went “what the hell, I’ll eat that too.”

I speak from experience here.

When I started this journey I was clueless. I knew I needed eat more naturally, but I didn’t even know how to make soup that didn’t come from a can.

Head on over to Addie’s place to finish it up.

Cognitive Dissonance (Rugs, Writing and Fear)

Do you know what Cognitive Dissonance is? This is clearly a reference back to my short-lived grad school days when I was studying counseling… but all that to say, I’ve been experience a sickening amount of cognitive dissonance lately.

Here’s a little definition of CD: Cognitive Dissonance is a psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously 

And may I add: it’s one of the most uncomfortable, pinching, squeezing nauseating feelings in the world.

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In music it’s described as a clashing of chords… nails on the chalkboard of the finely tuned ear.

I first heard about this concept not in a psychology class but in doctrine class.  I sat there, probably with crazy hair and an expensive planner when I hear him say something like this:

“There are few things more uncomfortable than believing one thing and behaving the opposite.”

(This is not a direct Dr Felch quote BUT it’s close!  And it stuck!…  I bet my friend Jill still has those notes still perfectly kept somewhere)

When played out in life, it makes you feel like an unevenly distributed washing machine, always thumping and shaking, still spinning but all out of balance.

And when you repetitively do something you don’t believe is right, self loathing soon follows… and it messes. you. up.  Continue reading

Big, Exciting (Young Life) Announcement

A few months before we moved up to Michigan, an email popped up in my inbox. It was from my High School Youth Group Leader, Chris, and it was a job offer.

Chris is no longer a Youth Pastor but is now the Regional director for Western Great Lakes Young Life.  In his email he invited to come on board to help the region tell the stories of Young Life through blogging, social media and other communication avenues.

I was incredibly excited as I read through it, until I got to the end… the part where he filled me in that Young Life Staff raise their own support by partnering with people who believe in what they’re doing.

I shut my laptop and sighed, there was no way I could do that. I wasn’t brave enough, it would be too awkward and I didn’t have the time.

Yet, this invitation to work with Young Life, to do blogging and social media as a “for real” job always simmered on the surface of my thoughts.

I wanted to do it, to dive in… but I was terrified the money wouldn’t be there.

But at some point the idea of  working with an organization I love in a role that perfectly fit my passions overthrew my fear of money and I said: “Yes.  Yes, God I’m doing this.”

New-YL-logo Continue reading

They’re Real and They’re Spectacular

photo copy 2 I’m talking about Michigan summers of course, don’t get any ideas. (flagrant Seinfeld reference)

 

It’s only mid July and I can already say that this is the best summer our family has had yet.  I adore Michigan summers, even when it’s a touch too hot for comfort.

As I was packing boxes I started to question myself on all the ways I’d been talking Michigan up.

Was it really was great as I said it was?

Would we really have a fridge full of local produce and need to don hoodies some evenings just to stay warm?

Did craft beer really abound? Would I see my friends and family all the time as I thought?

Yup.  Yes Indeed. For Sure and Affirmative.

The answer is yes.  So far our move has blown past our expectations. The weather is surreal and compared to the recent heat of Oklahoma summers it’s been an absolute balm for me and the outdoors. (This week has been a little sticky but it’s been so nice up until now I’m willing to overlook it)

Michigan Collage 5

So here’s a short SHORT list of the things about Michigan summers that are blowing me away:

1) 62 degree mornings and still drinking my morning coffee hot.
2) Smiling after trips to the beach when the floorboards of the van are covered with sand and our kids are asleep, sun-kissed in their car seats.
3) Grilled dinners on the deck, multiple nights in a row.
4) Riding my bike to the store to be eco, get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors.
5) Free popcorn and a race car cart for the kids at Family Fare.
6) Driving down Port Sheldon and stopping at one of the many small farm stands for dinner fare.
7) U-picking strawberries and blueberries with my children and watching them prance down the rows, covered in pink or blue juice… respectively.

Mich Collage 4
8) Sleeping with the windows open and leaving the AC off (not this week but generally)
9) The coolness of a basement, the prefect place to escape when the upstairs gets a touch too warm.
10) Great Lake Chinese and “The good Sweet and Sour Chicken”
11) The ability to host my family in our home without anyone packing a suitcase.
12) Reading a book on the front porch while my kids play in the turtle sprinkler
13) No Grocery Tax!
14) A strong up cycle movement that’s easy to get involved in with great thrift stores on every corner.

Mich Collage 3 15) Not having stepped foot in WalMart since we left Oklahoma.
16) Soft green, fescue grass all delicate under our feet.
17) People having bonfires in their driveways
18) Outdoor ice cream stores with picnic tables dotted with happy families.  
19) Dinner at one of a dozen local breweries and even wineries.
20) Impressive, gorgeous farmer’s markets two days a week complete with coffee and street musicians.
21) 8th Street grille and the gluten free hamburger buns.
22) Having Wendy’s with my best friend, the maid of honor in our wedding like and having it be just another Saturday in the life, not a big special event.
23) My Aunt and Uncle graciously watching our kids so we can have the occasional date night.

There you are, 23 things I love about Michigan…. 23 is my favorite number.  This has nothing to do with Michael Jordan by the way.

Don’t love how all my cool cultural references are at LEAST 10 years old?  I do.  I ceased being cool… in utero probably. 

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There are so many things about our lives that are still up in the air and the budget is still tighter than we like it but you guys?  We’ve come home.  All four of us.

The other night as I snuggled next to Noelle for evening prayers I listed as she thanked God for our new house and for finding someone nice to live in our old house so we could come to Michigan.

I cried.  Because Abrahamic risks don’t always pan out, and they’re scary and stressful.  I can’t imagine how often ‘Hammy and Sarah snapped at each other while it was all still a “work in progress”

But Michigan summers?  They’re real… and they’re spectacular.  Come for a visit, yes?  Ice cream is on us if you do.

Mich Collage 2What do you love about Summer where you are?  Or what do you miss about Summer where you call home?

 

A God Light Expert.

It was the end of the evening, after dinner but not quite bedtime, when I heard my four year old Noelle call to me from down the hall.

“Mom!  Come here, I have to show you something! It’s a surprise in your bedroom, you’ll love it so much!”

Outwardly I said: “Alright sweet girl, I’m coming!”

Inwardly I thought: “I wonder what mess she’s made this time.”

She was waiting for me on the khaki carpeted floor at the entrance to our bedroom, just sitting there grinning.

“Look Mom, it’s light.” she said with reverent awe.

And then I saw it, a beam of light that had made it’s way through the faux wood blinds of our bedroom and into the hallway, translucent-gold as the the dust of daily life passed through it.

My breath caught, this was not was I was expecting to be hauled down the hallway to see. Kitty games, forts, book towers… yup, expectable.  This golden stream of light?  It struck me as perfection.

I plopped down next to her and told her that it was light coming through the window, a focused beam of light shining on our floor.

“It reminds me of God.”  I told her, “the way his light streams into our lives and makes things beautiful and bright.”

 “So God is light?  That’s God?”  She asked me.

“Yes, and no” I told her. “That reminds me of God, the way his light always finds the cracks and comes into our lives.”

And that’s when she really popped my heart open: “Yeah, I know mom.  I’m a God-light Expert.”

God-light

I’m not sure what a God-light expert is guys, all I know for certain is that I want to be one.

An expert in seeing God-light in the unexpected places
In believing in it’s transformative power
An expert in being it, bringing it and letting it flow through me in all sorts of unlikely ways.

I’m sick of walking by the God light in all it’s many forms because I’m too occupied with busywork and worry.

I want to be stopped by the God light
I want to bring it where I’m going
I want the mini blinds of my heart to open wide to let in more than just cracks of it.

I want to swim in it, or at least realize that I already am swimming in it… and always have been.

I want see my children as the experts in God-Light and I, the novice as the they daily delight in the little bits of daily light.

I want my grown-up cynicism to crack like a breakfast egg and all the good stuff to run out and nourish another day of life on earth.

I want to be a God-Light expert too.  Don’t you?

How do your kids teach you about God-Light?  Where are you seeing it these days?

Ragamuffin Faith and Patchwork Theology

I was baptized as an infant at a traditional Christian Reformed Church.

Then we switched to a contemporary one

But it wasn’t my Dad’s favorite so he and my sister went Baptist for a while.

Then we all found a Christian Reformed Church we liked and it stuck

But I struck out on my own after high school and was baptized (again…) as an Adult at Mars Hill Bible Church.

Then I found my Best Friend, and she’s Roman Catholic.

After that I fell in love with this Methodist guy I met on the internet.

And we went to a non-denominational seminary before moving to Oklahoma where we joined an evangelical non-denominational church that did altar calls.

This is where my own children were dedicated as infants.

Now it looks like I’m going to be a Methodist Pastor’s wife, or maybe I already am one, they don’t give you an official certificate or anything.

After perusing my impressive list of denominational switching, can you tell where I’ve landed?  Yeah, me either.  I’ve tried a lot of different denominations and congregations and I’ve come to one extremely important conclusion.

The name on the sign doesn’t matter.  

I’m not a methodist, and I’m not CRC, and I’m not Baptist.  I’m just… a child of God.  I have no idea how to classify it and I’m really not all that worried about it.

But, I did’t always feel this way. For a long time in my late teens and early twenties I thought that all these distinctions mattered.  A lot.

I had huge political and theological ideas and a lot of energy to expend on debating them.

I was prepared to go to war and convert the world to my self-proclaimed “right way” of believing.  Which was so post modern and flexible, it had no labels, it was organic… how could anyone else possible do anything differently?

I was determined to convince everyone that my “no-labels” labeling was the right labeling system.

If I couldn’t sway them I walked away wondering how sad it must live in their overly labeled religious world.

I threw around theological slang like it was my job.

Reformed! post-modern! Non denominational!  Progressive! contemporary!

These labels (or lack thereof because again I was SO post-modern) mattered to me greatly and I expended a lot of energy on it all.

And then my Dad died, suddenly and all my family and all my people gathered in my parent’s house and we watched as they took his body to the funeral home.

My world truly and utterly fell apart that day and as we sat in that house, Baptists, Roman Catholics, Non-Denominal, Reformed and Christian Reformed people all grieved the very same man with a line of questioning that transcended denominational boundaries.

Because who cares about trans or consubstantiation when you’re just trying to remember that the blood of Christ will set everything right someday?

And infant versus adult baptism seems laughably trivial when you’re just trying to hang on to the belief that God is good and on your team… when somehow he allowed the glue of your family to leave through the portal of an unexpected heart attack?

I can pinpoint that day to the beginning of the end for my theological battling.  Because on that day it was simply back to basics, trying to hold onto the most simple truth and hope.

the old church nestled in the woods.

That God loves me
He is somehow still here
And somehow ….. still good

I’ve learned that religious and denominational distinctions evaporate in the face of the grieving, questioning thirst of real life. Continue reading

Tattered: Redemptive Creativity (A Guest Post for Tanya Marlow)

Today I am guest posting for my internet friend Tanya about one of my biggest hobbies, redemptive crafting, in a series that I was more than happy to climb on board with: The Christianity and Creativity Series.  

I have been a creative person for as long as I can remember, and grew up devouring whatever craft kit my parents bought my.  Of course I was always better at starting them that I was finishing them, but that was a preview of my ENTP personality.  

Before I start this guest post can I make a little announcement?  I’ve opened an Etsy store over the past few weeks selling redeemed, up cycled items.  Right now I mostly have my rag rugs in there and the shelves are a little bare because most of my pieces were picked up by a local boutique.  

And hey, there’s a link on the right hand section of my blog which will take you there if you ever want to check it out.  

I love being in the business of up-cycling and creating something beautiful from something discarded.  

Okay, announcement made.  On with the writing portion.  

Everyone grows up under an umbrella of words that keep popping up when others describe them. For me it was busy, loud and creative. I hated the first two, but always loved the last one, creative.

As young girl I wondered just how creativity would manifest itself in my life, although I’m sure I didn’t use those exact words. I knew I wasn’t a painter and I didn’t have the patience for the delicate work of drawing. For a while I thought maybe I’d go into photography or graphic design but neither of those stuck either.

tattered

I always had projects and hobbies going and for a long time I enjoyed cross stitch and embroidery, honestly because it’s the only thing I had been taught to do. Art class was always my favorite hour in school (that and history), but I was never the teacher’s star artiste.

It took me a long time work out where creativity fits into my life, and truly it is still a work in progress. It has looked differently in each season of my life, but I know one thing, it must be expressed. It cannot stay inside.

I adore the quote by Brené Brown in which she says: “Unused creativity isn’t benign. It metastasizes.”

I have found this to be spot-on accurate, if I don’t create, I itch… on a soul level. There were seasons in my life when I thought that giving up all my creative endeavors was the right thing to do. I had a good friend tell me that writing and crafting weren’t hats I could wear while being a good mother, that the fewer hats I had to wear, the happier I would be.

It was true for her life, but for me it was detrimental because creating is a huge part of what God designed me to do. I can’t help but express this, and when I do so my soul feels closer to my creator than I often feel when poring over my Bible.

So I create, in many ways. Alongside my two children and away from them, usually tucked in a corner of the basement with my vintage suitcases full of fabric, yarn, paint and old sheets.

Head on over to Tanya’s place to continue.