Something for your Sunday

I needed this today: “Hope for the Unhappily Single”

“If we are married in this life, it will be for a brief moment, and we won’t regret that brevity ten thousand years from now. We really won’t. No one will say, ‘I really wish I had been married’ — much less, ‘I really wish I had been married for five or ten more years on earth.’ That would be absurd when those years seem like seconds compared with all the gloriously, thoroughly happy time we have when our marriages end at death.

“We need to think about that as we weigh the intensity of our desperation to have it now. We need to ask whether we have made marriage a qualification for a happy and meaningful life. Am I undone and miserable by the prospect of never being married? Do I think of myself as incomplete or insignificant as an unmarried believer? These questions might reveal red flags that warn us marriage has become an idol.

“Ultimately, we will all be single forever, and it will be gloriously good. We will all be finally married forever, joined together forever with our Savior and First Love. We’ll know well then that the marriages here on earth truly were small and short compared with all we have in Christ.”

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Friday Finds: 9/29/17

This may be the weekend in which fall arrives in Virginia! It’s been hot as blazes this week, but the weekend forecast finally shows low 70s, which is wonderful considering I will be outside much of the day tomorrow.  College Gameday is going to my beloved Blacksburg so I will be watching closely for views of my hometown (and, later, tuning in to see the Hokies upset the Tigers…hopefully).

Here are my notable “finds” of the week:

If you need some reading recommendations, there are several good books on this list. I like that they are all on the short side — sometimes 400 pages is intimidating — even for me!

These articles have an interesting take on solitude and being alone: “The Pursuit of Loneliness” and “The Importance of Being Alone.” I’d love to hear what you think.

So Hugh Hefner died this week and while I really don’t want to give him any additional attention, the response on Twitter has been fascinating.  He was clearly a polarizing figure for obvious reasons, so it was no surprise for some to hail him as a hero and others to make him the villain.  What I appreciated, however, was this post by Emma Gray of the Huffington Post — I think it’s worthwhile because it shows the way the Sexual  Revolution is actually anti-feminist (and does so from a non religious perspective): “The Contradictory Feminist Legacy of Playboy’s Hugh Hefner”. And, since I’ve already brought it up, did you hear about how he bought a spot in the mausoleum next to Marilyn Monroe? He’s basically a stalker/sexual predator even in death . It’s disgusting.

I also found this rather old article by Jen Wilkin and really liked what she had to say – I guess this is Christian feminism…? No matter what you call it, let’s raise strong girls who can’t be easily manipulated: “On Daughters and Dating: How to Intimidate Suitors.”

If someone wants to buy me this poncho, I wouldn’t be sad.

And, last but not least, I have a sad story. I spent the better part of an hour last night looking for a new pumpkin recipe to try. I couldn’t find one! It seems people are all about pumpkin and chocolate combinations this year, and that is one flavor profile I cannot get behind.  What about you? Fan or no? And do you have a non-chocolate pumpkin themed recipe to share? I’d love one!

Have a great weekend!

Friday Finds: 9/22/17

This has been the longest week! A relatively good one, but a long one nonetheless. I have a pretty busy weekend lined up, but hopefully I’ll find a few hours to rest – I need it.

Here are this week’s finds.

For those of you craving a fall drink and don’t love the Pumpkin Spice Latte, Starbucks has a few new drinks to try. My sister tells me the Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea Latte is pretty good.  I’m personally looking forward to trying the Maple Pecan Latte.  It sounds delicious!

I am beyond excited about my summer plans (already, I know).  In June, my sisters and I are attending The Gospel Coalition’s Conference for Women in Indianapolis. I cannot wait to hear some of my favorite teachers in person – including Jen Wilkin, Gloria Furman, and Melissa Kruger.  And speaking of Jen Wilkin, here is a great article she posted this week: “Think Fake News is Scary? Try False Teaching.”

Some of you may know, but I love personality typing systems. I’ve recently learned about the enneagram and find it fascinating.  Here’s a link to a great podcast I listened to yesterday with Annie Downs and Beth McCord (it’s podcast episode 53).  Beth is an enneagram coach and you can take an assessment on her website here.  I still can’t figure out which number I am – I’ve narrowed it down to a couple, but haven’t convinced myself of either one.  On the podcast, Annie recommends a couple books that I want to get my hands on.

That’s all I’ve got….enjoy your weekend!

Friday Finds: 9/15/17

Happy Friday – we’ve made it through another work week! Mine was extremely busy so this post will be brief.  Here are a few finds from the last few days.

I really appreciated the way the Modern Mrs. Darcy described her 9/11 experience. Her words reminded me of the way I felt after the April 16, 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech.  Trauma is real and impacts us in ways we can’t predict.

I think I’ve mentioned the podcast “Pod Save America” on here before, but it’s worth mentioning again. This week’s episode is an interview with Hillary Clinton and summarizes much of what she discusses in her book, What Happened, which released this week.  While I don’t agree with Clinton on every issue, I respect her greatly and appreciate what she has to say about sexism in America.

And since there’s so much heaviness in the world, I’ve had to make sure my TV watching provides an escape, so I’ve been watching “Parks & Rec” and I LOVE IT! I know, I know, I’m way late to this phenomenon but I’m glad I found it now.

What are your plans this weekend? I will be getting my household chores done, reading, and watching football on Saturday.  On Sunday, we’re celebrating my nieces’ second birthday(s?) with family.  I’m looking forward to seeing everyone…and holding my nephew Will who was born this week!

Church of the Small Things

Does any of this matter?

This is the question that haunts me on the bad days, the days when the mundane and seemingly trivial tasks get on my last nerve.  How many times with I have the same conversations with these overly dramatic 7th graders? Why does the kitchen sink stay so full of dishes when I’m the only person living in my house?!  I thought my life was going to be more than this. And I know it is more than this, but it’s also very much just this.

The answer to the original, of course, is yes, yes it does, and that is why I am so excited for Melanie Shankle’s book, Church of the Small Things.  In this book, Shankle shares the way these small moments can be beautiful and breathtaking in their own way.

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Her stories resonated with me and as I read her words I remembered many similar moments in my own life.  Like just last week when my almost two-year-old niece pulled up a chair next to me while I was watching football and put her hand on my knee.  Just an ordinary beautiful day…

The most powerful memory, however, was that of the church house group my family went to when I was young. We met every Tuesday night at a dear elderly couple’s home.  My dad played the guitar and we sang worship songs together, then the kids went into the basement while the adults did a Bible study (I mean, I guess that’s what they did) and prayed together.  We kids played outside or in the basement until we heard the host call out “Ahoy down in the engine room!” – the signal for us to come running for snack time!

That house group was my family: my honorary grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my older brothers and sisters.

I remember some Tuesdays the adults took longer than others.  As the kids got antsy, one or two of us would sneak upstairs to see what they were doing and maybe get an idea of when they would be done.  Once when it was my turn I peeked into the room and saw a woman in tears, sharing something difficult, while several others held her close and prayed.  In that moment I saw clearly what the church was called to be.

Now, over 20 years later, I am the single 30 something in a multi-generational house group.  I stay upstairs with the grownups while the kids go into the basement.  It’s come full circle for me.  My favorite part of the group, though, is the kids. Because I know full well what a beautiful thing it is they get to see each week, and I hope I am showing them the love I received.

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All that to say — GET THIS BOOK!  Church of the Small Things doesn’t release until October 3rd, but if you preorder now (on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.) you will receive some awesome gifts just for preordering.

Once you’ve ordered, fill out the form here and receive:

  • My Favorite Things ebook by Melanie Shankle
  • Church of the Small Thing Video Study Session 1
  • 4 Downloadable prints from the cover artist
  • A book themed lock screen
  • The first 3 chapters of the book so you can start reading now!
  • Coupon codes for some discounts on Melanie’s favorite things
  • 5 recipes

(And, the book usually arrives on release day when you order it this way, so that’s an added bonus.)

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Friday Finds: 9/8/17

I don’t have a whole lot to share today – it’s been a wild week. Even today has been full of ups and downs.

Who’s excited for football?!?!  I loved this article written by Josh Jackson’s uncle.   Josh is the freshman starting quarterback for Virginia Tech and his uncle is the college football beat writer for Penn State.

I found another recipe for a fall-themed cake I want to try: Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake with Pecan Praline Glaze.  It looks delicious!

And lastly, I want to recommend the current She Reads Truth study on The Sermon on the Mount. I think it’s a four-week plan, but you can start anytime.  The plan is free on their website or $1.99 on the app.  Check it out here!

Have a great weekend, friends! I will spend mine doing household chores and anxiously awaiting the arrival of my first nephew!

What I Read: August 2017

Another month has come and gone! August was jam-packed with back to school activities, but I still managed to read 10 books, although they probably had a lower average page count than other months.

Here’s what I read in August.

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One True Loves – Taylor Jenkins Reid (library; paperback) – This is a sweet story and excellent palate cleanser, summer read, or just something to escape the world with. I give it about 3.75/5 stars. Pages 85-93 are the most beautiful and poignant words I’ve read in a while. The whole story is worth it for that piece.

Lord, Teach Us To Pray – Andrew Murray (kindle) – I read this because my church did a 6 week series on prayer by the same name, and I’d had the book in my queue for a while. Andrew Murray is one of my favorite writers. I think I underlined something on every page.

The Lying Game – Ruth Ware (kindle, from Netgalley) – This is a good suspense novel that keeps you guessing.  I really liked one of Ware’s books, then really disliked another. This one was good for what it is, but a little formulaic, so if you’re only reading 20 books a year, pass on this one.

Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted – Shannan Martin (kindle) – a Christian-themed memoir from a popular blogger who I don’t follow.  It was interesting, but I had trouble drawing any sort of clear applications.

The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance – Ben Sasse (library; hardback) – This book is fascinating! I must admit that I skimmed some of it because I lost track of time and it was overdue and I hate library fines.

Behold the Dreamers – Imbulo Mbue (kindle) – I’d been meaning to read this one for a while, but then Oprah picked it for her book club, which meant it took a long time for my hold to come through on Overdrive.  I liked it, but it’s not the best immigrant story I’ve read this year.  Maybe I would have liked it more before all the hype.

American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land – Monica Hesse (audiobook) – This is the true story of a Bonnie and Clyde pair of arsonists who set nearly a fire a day over a span of several months in Accomack County, Virginia. Hesse covered the arsons for the Washington Post, and tells the story as if it were happening in real time.  I loved it!

The Stars Are Fire – Anita Schreve (library; hardback) – this book is set in Maine in the 1940s.  A summer drought is made worse by a series of serious wildfires that ran up the Maine coastline and left many small towns in shambles.  This novel follows the plight of one young woman trying to save her young family.  It was an enjoyable and quick read, though I could have done without some of the plot points.

Humility – Andrew Murray (kindle) – I should probably just continually read and re-read this one.

Hush (Eishes Chayil) – Eishes Chayil is a pseudonym for an unnamed writer. The word is Hebrew for “woman of valor”.  Eishes Chayil tells the dark story of rape and incest in her Orthodox Jewish community – a crime even her parents tried to cover up for years.  This was a difficult read for a book sold as YA.  I appreciated the story but my total ignorance about the culture made reading it a laborious task as the customs and vocabulary were completely foreign to me.

I will most likely reach my goal of 100 books sometime in September or October, so I am way ahead of schedule.  My goal for the next two months is to only read books I already own but haven’t read yet.  If a library hold comes in, I will read it, but I will not spend any money on books.

What have you been reading lately?