what I’m into–June edition

Friday, June 28, 2013

June has been a pretty light blogging month for me. Baseball and swimming and outside all the time equals less writing time. (and bug bites and sunburn, but whatever.) I have been writing ideas in my moleskine like crazy though. Surely that counts for something. All this outdoor time does allow for quite a bit of reading and listening, however.

what I read:

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The Child Catchers by Kathryn Joyce was by far the most interesting book I’ve read in quite awhile. I have SO MANY THOUGHTS about it – far too many to go into in this post for sure. This critique is valid and needed, and as someone who is a part of the evangelical adoption movement, there are several cringe-worthy moments. It’s hard to hear an outsider’s perspective of some of the thoughts and rhetoric surrounding how we discuss adoption and orphan care. However. I ended the book somewhat disappointed. I don’t think she treated the movement with fairness. I wish it had been balanced with the good and beautiful and ethical. I wish she had talked about foster care. I wish she had not implicitly laid the blame for corruption at the feet of the whole evangelical movement. The correlation was well-supported, but I really don’t think there was enough evidence to prove causation. Have you read it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I also quite enjoyed Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Introversion is a new favorite topic of mine since I began to truly understand myself and how I’m wired. (INFP for the record, although I’m much closer to a 60/40 split when it comes to the introversion part) My favorite part of this book, however, wasn’t specifically about introverts as much as it was about the harm that ‘group think’ is having on both society and business, and although she didn’t address the church culture specifically, I think that it is definitely true there as well. So interesting.

I’m also in the middle of When She Was Gone by Gwendolyn Gross. It’s a mystery about the disappearance of a young girl told from the perspectives of several different people who lived on her street, and I’m really, really enjoying this uncommon way of approaching a story.

Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams Into Your Comfortable Life by Jeff Goins should be required reading for every young adult (and some of us who aren’t so young too).

Other books I read: What Happens When Women Say Yes to God – Lysa Terkeurst, Help Thanks Wow by Anne Lamott, The Art Forger – B.A. Shapiro, Christ in the Chaos: How the Gospel Changes Motherhood – Kimm Crandall, Undaunted – Christine Caine, Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn – Melanie Shankle

 

what I listened to:

American Kid – Patty Griffin: This. over and over and over and over. Then this morning, Spotify informed me that I had been listening to Patty Griffin all week – have I also tried Burl Ives? Umm. No? One of these things is not like the other.

All Sons and Daughters Pandora station: there is no music that speaks to my soul and where I live right now like All Sons and Daughters. Put them into Pandora and you also get some Hillsong United, Phil Wickham, and Jesus Culture. (and some Philips, Craig, and Dean, but you can thumbs down those songs.)

In other listening news, my beloved Talk of the Nation on NPR has said goodbye this week. Not cool, NPR. I’ll miss you, Neil Conan.

 

what I watched:

Prometheus. No one told me this was a prequel to Alien. THERE WERE WORMS. Not cool.

Other movies: Trouble with the Curve, The Dark Knight Rises, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Almost done with The West Wing on Netflix. Thankfully. It’s been a commitment. Now I remember why I stopped watching it religiously midway through last time. It’s still beautifully written because it’s Aaron Sorkin, but the last three seasons have been dragging more than a little bit. (Just an FYI – if you like Aaron Sorkin, watch Studio 60 instead. It’s his best work.)

The Fosters is a new show on ABC Family, and I think the three episodes I’ve seen have been pretty well done. Foster care is under-covered in the media, and when it is covered, it’s usually terrible. This is a mostly fair depiction – sure, some of the logistics are strange and not at all representative of the system, but at least the overall picture is positive and encouraging. I’m enjoying it so far.

Also: So You Think You Can Dance, Masterchef, Psych

 

What are you into this month? And more importantly, what’s your favorite Sorkin show? I promise to only judge you a little if you say West Wing.

 

Stop by Leigh’s and see what everyone else is into this month!

What I'm Into at HopefulLeigh

summer days

Friday, June 21, 2013

IMG_0022On the first day of summer, ours finally feels like it’s begun. We’ve been out of school for 3 weeks, but busyness kept everyone in the family feeling like summer had not yet truly begun. Now, we’re in the throes of it, the good and the bad. The bad, because the littles take a bit of adjustment when the big kids come home. The good because….summer.

Let me first explain that I typically hate summer. It is just not my favorite season. I hate summer clothes; I like to be more covered up, thank you. I hate bugs. They love me though, and we live on the water, so I am unable to go outside even for a few minutes in the evenings without a minimum of ten bites as my reward. I also have a lengthy history of heat intolerance, thanks to the never-ending rewards of my autoimmune disease. I get sick easily in the heat, and I feel all-around terrible when it’s too warm. You can look back at our electric bills and tell the summers where my thyroid medicine is functioning normally and the ones where it’s not. This summer seems to not be so bad, since thus far I’ve been able to keep the thermostat at a higher temp than last year.

That said, I love summer for my kids. I love that they go outside in the morning, and we make them come back in at bedtime. I love sleepovers, baseball days, watching my son ride off with his fishing poles and tackle box, helping them set up sleeping bags on the top of the fort so they can sleep outdoors, seeing them in the shade reading books in the heat of the day, and the popsicle stickiness that covers their faces. This weekend, our inflatable pool goes up, and then we’ll have afternoons in the water followed by (hopefully) sleepy children at night. I love making our own routine, allowing for a late night sometimes if we need it because I know that we can allow late-risers to have their sleeping time in the morning.

I also love campfires and the fact that, at least at most once a week, I can send my kids out with a pack of hotdogs and some marshmallows and not have to make dinner. I barely even feel guilty – we eat plenty of vegetables, and a weekly meal of hot dogs sure isn’t going to kill them. Go ahead and turn me in to the clean eating police. I don’t care. They’re eating enough fruit to put us in the poorhouse (man, is fruit expensive), so it’ll all even out in the end.

so tell me - what are your favorite things about summer?

at rest

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

On the couch watching So You Think You Can Dance with my sweet girl, little brown feet tucked snug underneath my pink pajama legs, I treasure the quiet. Just last night, we were together tightly on the couch as well, only it wasn’t relaxed. Too many nights, I spend the time holding her while she thrashes and cries, her little body longing for rest yet unable to find it. I long for her body and spirit to find freedom and release like we see in the dancers we’re watching.

More than any other prayer that I pray for my littlest, I pray that she finds peace. I think all kids need help learning how to regulate themselves – their emotions, their bodies, but this one, she just needs more help than most. Even while she sleeps, she isn’t at rest. Her whole body moves at every moment. Her legs kick non-stop, even when she’s in the deepest of sleep. We weigh her down with blanket after blanket. We wrap her tight in a sleeping bag stuffed with pillows. But in the summer, it’s too hot. It seems unbearably uncomfortable to cover her up, but too cruel to not help her body find equilibrium.

We continue to learn new ways to live. What worked for our children without sensory issues definitely doesn’t work for our youngest daughter. We fight public perception of her behavior. Honestly, we fight our own perception of her behavior. It’s so easy to blame ourselves, to get caught up in our own failures and to try to be stricter, require more of her, not ‘allow’ her to behave in certain ways. It just doesn’t work. We can’t help her learn to deal with her issues by force.

Fortunately, we have some pretty great professionals in our lives that counteract those feelings of inadequacy. They help us normalize what we’re seeing and feeling. They let us know that it’s really not just us, in spite of what we and the people surrounding us may think. We can rest with their encouragement that yes, there is a real problem, and no, it’s not poor parenting. In the midst of the hardest and longest of days, several of which have occurred this week, I desperately need to hear those words.

We go to therapy week after week where I can watch my sweet girl blossom with sensory input. I can watch her spirit calm almost like magic when she enters the barn and strokes the side of her horse before she begins her riding session. I can visibly see the difference hippotherapy makes, and it reassures me that we’re doing the right thing, that we’re headed down the right path for her. We learn coping mechanisms, we structure our days with purpose, we attempt new ideas, we buy new items to assist, and we pray, pray, pray for wisdom. It’s a long road we’ve been walking, and we have quite a long way to go. I just want us to get there with grace and compassion, both for our daughter and for ourselves.

radical

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Last week, I became reacquainted with a blog I used to read years ago. I had three years of posts to catch up on, and I was transfixed. It’s not how I usually approach blogs. I don’t typically have time to read through someone’s entire library of blog posts, but I could not stop with this woman’s story. It is not an exaggeration when I say that every time I sat at the computer for something other than work, it was her blog I was reading.

For three consecutive days.

Her story of giving it all up and living radically in the midst of the ordinary - it’s everything I want to be and do. Would I be willing to do the kind of things she did? Can I give up my dreams of a bigger country house, a comfortable lifestyle, a family that looks and, even more importantly, behaves a certain way? Can I lay it all down for the sake of truly living?

It’s popular right now to talk about living radically, and it’s becoming even more popular to criticize it – to say that it’s just as good to plod along, to live quiet, ordinary lives where we are in the suburbs. There’s nothing at all wrong with the suburbs. There’s nothing wrong with choosing things that look ordinary to everyone else. We also need to be careful that we don’t put a specific “holiness” grade on different lifestyles. But these criticisms increasingly read more to me like a defense for doing what we want to do rather than an example of what following Christ might look like in the suburbs, as a stay-at-home-mom, as someone with an ‘ordinary’ business job. It feels like we’re expending a lot of energy explaining our decisions to make ourselves comfortable rather than encouraging people to live radically for Jesus WHEREVER that may be.

If you’re living for Jesus, truly living out His teachings, following His example of sacrifice, then you are living a radical life. It doesn’t look the same for everybody – some people are working in Africa, some people are living in economically depressed communities, some are in the suburbs, some are in high-end gated communities – but there is nothing ordinary about following Jesus with everything that you are. There is no plodding along in this Christian life.

For me, this looks like examining every decision in the light of what it means to follow Jesus daily. Am I willing to lay down my own desires so that I can be ready for what God has for me? Am I willing to lay down my pride so that I can say ‘yes’ with a surrendered spirit? Am I willing to make decisions about my finances, my future, even my children with Jesus as my first priority?

These have been really, really hard questions for me to address. It’s been a painful journey to let go of some of these things. Even still, I’m clinging too tightly to certain things in my life, unwilling to let them go, relinquish control. My children’s future. Getting out of debt. Having nice things. Planning for a bigger home. Leisure time. Relaxing activities. Good grief, I could make a list for days of all the things I don’t want to let go of, and one by one, I’m trying to release them.

God is calling me to live a radical life. I don’t know if it will look much different from the outside than the one I’m living right now, but what I do know is that I won’t be able to do it with my fists clenched tight around all of my dreams, my things, my family. I’m laying it all down with a willing heart and open hands. All of it a yes to the One who calls me.

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