A Practical Guide to Culture: Book Review

A Practical Guide to Culture Book Review

If you’ve never gotten onto a river ride that you mount using a giant spinning table — well, I’m not sure if I would recommend it to you. Oh, they are easy enough to find. There’s one on the Rio Loco ride at Sea World, and I’m sure Six Flags or any other theme park with a river ride has one as well. But I waver in suggesting it to you. Because as enjoyable as the rest of the ride may be, that wooden platform is completely and utterly unbalancing. Literally. You step off of a firm concrete slab, onto a twirling place of confusion, where neither your feet nor your stability is right. You mentally know that this is completely safe, but still your adrenaline jumps as you rush to a boat as quickly as you can, for a moment irrationally worried that you might be left behind. And sometimes, that’s what life can be like for young adults.

I should know. I am one. Continue reading

We’ve Shattered Our World

We'veShatteredOurWorld

The world hurts. But not as much as it should. Because honestly, I closed myself off, tried not to feel much over Manchester. Not because it wasn’t an utterly abhorrent thing, not because the loss of innocents isn’t tragedy, not because the inside of me shouldn’t cry at such loss, but because I shut myself off from the pain. There’s too much — I don’t want to feel.  Something inside cries that I’ll be crushed if I do. Because month upon month, week upon week, day upon day, some new horror overwashes us. I don’t want to acknowledge it. I don’t want to accept it, because then I must accept too that our world is shattered.

This place where we thought at least children are safe — it doesn’t exist. This world where people’s lives were respected — it’s not here. Our world, our towns, our homes, man himself — is shattered. Continue reading

When Your Third Birthday Is Our First With You

When Your Third Birthday

It was your birthday this week, brother-mine. It was a blast. We went all out, with a cake shaped like a jet (which you loved, though you loved the cake-pan more, since you could play with that), wrapping-paper covered in vehicles, and more presents than you even wanted to open.

Now, you’re only three, so you didn’t quite understand everything, but you still grinned,  ate cake, and played with your toys. And you’re only three, so you didn’t quite understand the sadness connected with your birthday. Because this was your third birthday — yet only your first one with us. Because you’ve been on earth three years, but only six months with us. With your family.

So my heart aches for you. Continue reading

Don’t Spend Your Time Preparing For Your Future Home

Don't

I read a quote the other day, from a title or an article, saying “You should spend every moment of your waking time as a single readying yourself to provide for your future home.”

And I’m ashamed to say, I didn’t actually read the article. And that’s not a direct quote. That’s simply the best I remember of it, though I do remember being shocked at how specific “every moment of your time” was. I did fully intend to read the article, willing to give the author credit for having an explanation, a caveat. But sadly, somehow its page was closed, and I couldn’t find where it came from or where it went. So I shall assume the best of the author, and believe that they intended to explain themselves, and place preparing for our future home in its proper order of importance.

Yet the fact remains, I know of teachers who might just accept that quote as it now stands.

I know of girls who believe that quote just as it now stands.

I  know of people who live that quote just as it now stands.

I used to be one of them. Continue reading

3 Lessons From an Almost 3-year Old on Prayer

3 Lessons

There’s a toddler dashing about our house now, a skewed-hair mess of sweet and sass. So I’ve learned to do many new things.

How to distract him with something else fun, because he can’t be banging thunder on the piano while siblings are in online class? Check. How to persuade in a few more bites of eggs, because despite what he may think he can’t survive on just watermelon? Check. How to change an overly-full diaper on laughing child who refuses to stay still? Double check.

Though my parents do take care of most all of Xan’s needs, I’ve still learned many practical physical skills from this little brother of mine. But sometimes he teaches me spiritual skills as well.

Because one of the things little ones are best at is needing help. And when they need help, they come to adults for aid. Whether they’re hurt, hungry, mad, or just want that one toy down, they go straight to the only people who can answer their needs. And I think there are several thing we can learn from them about coming to God with our needs.

1: You’re Dependent

Continue reading

The Beauty of Paradox: Guest Post on the Rebelution

The BeautyofParadox

Slime and Beauty. Not two words we would usually associate together.

Because slime is gooey and sticky and messy and bleck. But you know what, I saw beauty in it. I caught a glimpse of the delight of paradoxes the other day.

The rain steadily drummed off the porch, constraining the energy of the kindergarteners inside. But taking such simple ingredients as cornstarch and water, a magical portal was opened from this grey world into a new one — one full of green and yellow and pink and blue slime.

Delighted, powdery-whitened arms and hands mixed and mixed until they made a new discovery. It was hard — and wet! When they forcibly dug it up, crushing it between their chubby fingers, it was solid, hard. But after a few moments of inactivity it would melt away, escaping through the cracks of their fingers. (The scientific name for this actually is oobleck, or a non-newtonian fluid.)

It changed, it didn’t stay the same, it was confusing, a paradox! And they were ecstatic. This was the most fun they had ever had. I tried to explain to them, in their terms of course, the science and reason why. But what good are words and explanations when you have hands, touch, and movement already assaulting all your senses with delight? They didn’t really care why. They were just amazed, just thrilled, just delighted that it does.

And I wonder sometimes if in wanting too hard to just know, to just completely understand, to analyze until there are no more paradoxes — we kill our joy. Perhaps not understanding can be the most wonderful beauty of all.

Finish reading here on the Reb.

Guest Post Over At Reflections: The Messy Love of Easter

The Messy Love of Easter

My good friend Gloria gave me the privilege of writing for her blog Reflections this Easter, so I’d like to share the post with you all; and while you’re over there take a few minutes to explore more of her lovely blog!

 

Horrifying. Scandalous. These aren’t the words we usually associate with Easter.

Our normal thoughts fall more along the lines of pastel flowers, cute chicks and bunnies, and Precious Moments kids kneeling gently beneath a brown ceramic cross.

And those are sweet. Those are cute. Those are clean. But they’re wrong.

Because Easter, the whole of this great story, isn’t cute. It isn’t clean. There are no pastels; no, it’s stained in vivid hues of crimson and black and wretchedness and anger and violent love. Because Easter is nothing without the cross.

But so often we’re tempted to check out. We know the story, or at least, we’ve heard it many times. But we forget. We forget how shocking it is. How dreadful. Our sin is a horrifying, messy thing, and to think that the answer to it would be cute and clean and easy — It couldn’t be. We violently removed ourselves and were swept away from God and life and light; and only a violent love, willing to do and endure all for us, could win us back.

So lay aside your prior knowledge, your prior suppositions for a moment. Read back through all the accounts (Mat. 26-28, Mark 14-16, Luke 22-24, John 18-21); it’ll probably take about half an hour. Blow away the dust of familiarity, and read this as a story. (The Greatest One which ever was.)

As you read, can’t you feel the tension, the dread, the rising anger at this injustice?

Read the rest here on Gloria’s blog.

Don’t Forget to Keep Your Sacred

Don't Forget to Keep Your Sacred

I grasped something beautiful the other day. But I lost it.

It had been one of those maddeningly-long days, full of never-screaming-but-also-never-ceasing frustrations, where you clench your eyes and your sanity just to keep from losing it all. Tensed, tired, and dusty, my only thoughts were water for my throat and shower, but on the way there I picked up my tablet. As the water whooshed and steam filled the air, I absent-mindedly turned on my music, hoping perhaps the notes could wash away the heaviness soap and water couldn’t reach.

Fortunately, the living Water is very skilled at doing just that.

Standing there, alone, open, bare; I was overcome. I worshiped. I was renewed. I rejoiced in Him, in praising His name. I returned to my room cleansed in more ways than one; and sat down to continue working on a post started long before, worship music still playing and working in my soul.

In a moment, overcome by Him, I stopped and wrote one of the deepest, most heartfelt, most vulnerable and overwhelmed bit to Him I have ever known.

“Have you felt it? This longing, overwhelming urge to know Him more, this rushing out of your heart to become closer to Him? You’ve had a taste of His love and want to become drunk on it, to know Him more, to have more of Him, just more of His word, just more of His presence, just more of His awesomeness, in the old sense of the word — that, that only is enough to satisfy and you crave it overwhelmingly.”

But — that’s not it.

The sad part is, that paragraph is not what I wrote. That’s only the gleanings, the faded colors of what I remember, the distant echoes of a powerful prayer. Because somehow, I lost it. Continue reading

Mirrors and Photographs; Present and Past

Mirrors and Photographs

I looked in the mirror this morning.

Which isn’t unusual, because it’s situated in the walkway of my room, and I glance at it fairly often when I’m preparing for my day, because I work with children all week and want to give them the idea that modest and fashionable can be synonymous (but also because, if we’re being completely honest, I can be rather vain at times.)

And I’m grinning sheepishly at the view, of a bleary-eyed young woman, with her glasses bent slightly askew from adjusting them so much, her comfy, giant college-that-I’m-not-actually-going-to-they-just-gave-me-it-for-free-and-it’s-comfortable-shirt enveloping me, and my bare feet giving the impression of the princess from Tangled, which is a apt description of both my hair’s length and state.

And so I laugh gently at myself, pull my hair out of my face, and get started with my day.

But on my wall there are some pictures. (Actually, no, that isn’t true, they’re sitting on my dresser because in the busyness of life hanging-pictures-on-wall is so far down on the list that I still haven’t gotten around to it.)

And those pictures show a little girl, smiling and laughing, poised and pert, always ready with a retort or reply.

But you know what? I like the woman in the mirror better than that girl. Continue reading

Are You Offensive?

Are You Offensive_

I’m sure you balked at this title. I certainly would. “Offensive? Of course not! Isn’t that the exact opposite of what we as Christians are supposed to be?”

Because we don’t want people to get angry with us. We don’t want to be disliked. We work very hard to portray a pleasant image, a pleasing demeanor, and why would we want anything to disturb it?

And when that pertains to our own character traits and speech, that’s fine – good even. I shouldn’t try to be annoying. I shouldn’t use harsh, grating words. I shouldn’t be abrasive and loud, brow-beating and abusing everyone around me. That all goes against how we’re called to live as Christians.

But as Christians, we are called to be offensive in another way. Continue reading