25 November 2013

forget the ducks. at least for a while.

I love to understand. You might say that I'm obsessive about it.

This girl can't just do things; oh no, I need to know the why and wherefore, preferably with footnotes. Are there reasons? I must find them. Are there quandaries? I must solve them. Should my mental ducks wander out of their row, I bustle about shooing them back into line, and can't sleep until they are quacking in an orderly fashion once more.

image credit: Blossom's Mom
In fact, I approach most of life on such a cerebral slant that I tend to reduce even God to a mere concept: I forget that He is a person. I forget that He invites me into His family.

Huzzah theology! Seriously, it's great stuff. But when the Lord of Hosts figures more as philosophical category than dear Father, something has gone awry. Amid all my study, I want to remember that I won't be spending eternity diagramming the finer points of God's sovereignty, but rather, gazing enraptured into His glory. He is so compassionate and kind. He wants me to rest in His goodness.

So I love this reminder from John Piper's superb book The Pleasures of God. It reminds me that my anxiety over my "ducks" is nothing compared to God's love for me, and that I don't have to line them up in order to enjoy His gifts.

Something hinders the release of wonder. Something confines our affections . . .
Oh, how complex are the obstructions of belief! The way our parents treated us, the cultic curiosities of a grandmother, the deadening force of poverty or wealth, the anesthesia of televised worldliness, the boredom of trivial business, the wilderness of lonely wedlock, the heartbreak of wayward kids, the never-ending ache of arthritic joints, the memories of lovelessness and fragile hope-- how many ways the enemy of our souls can make us fear that the God and Father of Jesus Christ is too good to be true.
But Jesus will not sit by and let us disbelieve without a fight. He takes up the weapon of the Word and speaks it with power for all who struggle to believe: "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's pleasure to give you the kingdom."

22 November 2013

Weekend linkage // 7QT #15

Linked up with Conversion Diary.

1)

"Koalas are big fuzzy jungle lobsters."
-maybe J did not pay attention in zoology class

2)

Ellie has learned how to crawl. ALARM. It's only army-crawling-- she looks like a spastic inchworm-- and it's very slow. But still. My baby can move.

3)

This post from Tim Challies is probably the best thing I've ever read on modesty.
I am not going to give you a checklist for how to dress with modesty. I can’t. It would not be possible to create a list that accounts for all situations, all cultures, all people. Each of us needs to consider how to love one another and bring glory to God through the clothing we wear. Each of us needs to consider how we can dress in such a way that we do not contradict or detract from the message we proclaim.
The ultimate solution to immodesty is not a list of rules or a checklist; the solution is the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ.
4)

The politics and economics of Harry Potter. "Rowling’s free market is tremendously cramped. Instead of a fantastical private sector, most of Rowling’s wizards, in some form or another, work for the Ministry of Magic—that is to say, the state . . . In a world where magic exists with an immense capacity for human flourishing, a good percentage of wizards become magical bureaucrats. This is a terrific failure of imagination."

The comments are also delightfully nerdy.

5)

Silly links time:
 

This pop song is too philosophical!

Best Amazon reviewer ever?

Hilarious reasons for getting detention.

6)

This is darling: newborn twins clinging to one another. It seems like they must have been positioned that way in the womb.

7)

After mounting a long resistance to the charms of musical "reality" shows like American Idol, I have become mildly obsessed with NBC's The Voice. It started back in March when I was spending hours on end nursing a newborn-- I needed something to amuse me, and this fit the bill. We don't have a real TV but I watch episodes on Hulu the day after. There's even a dude from Lancaster on this season, which gives me a semi-patriotic reason to watch.

Anyhoodle, one of the contestants recently sang "My Kind of Love" by Emeli Sande. (Because I am not up to date on my muzak, I'd never heard it before.) What a good song. And it strikes me that many women could sing these lyrics truthfully. Though women have acquired a reputation for being emotional and impulsive, our love typically burns long and steady.
You won't see me at the parties, I guess I'm just no fun
I won't be turning up the radio, singing baby you're the one

But don't ever question if my heart beats only for you
I think of countless wives who demonstrate this "kind of love." Without glitz or glam, they come through when nobody else does, and prove repeatedly that their heart is wholly given to that one man.

Not to say men aren't capable of steadfast love, because they certainly are. But I think that many women show love in this quiet, determined, understated way-- a way that contradicts their popular reputation as romantic, head-in-the-clouds drama queens. And that deserves to be honored. My meandering for today. :)

18 November 2013

but I have calmed and quieted my soul

Mother and Child, Mary Cassatt
My daughter wants to be with me almost constantly. If she feels out of sorts, comfort only comes from Mama, and she'll raise a ruckus until I come to her rescue. When she's nursing she grabs my shirt and stares up at my face, as if she's making sure that I won't disappear. She needs her mother and is not ashamed to admit it; she loves to look at me, touch me, and smile back at me.

How might my life look if I'd cling to God as tightly as Ellie clings to me?

Life wouldn't look much different, I imagine, as I'd still be going about my daily tasks. But I would be different as I did those things.

If I was that desperate to see God's face . . . if I cried out to Him whenever I felt confused or stressed or afraid . . . if I would, spiritually speaking, regularly climb into His arms and relinquish my burdens?

I think that peace and joy would suffuse my soul anew. While ironing or sweeping or grading papers or trimming my daughter's fingernails, His peace and joy would wrap about my busy mind and give me a hopeful song to sing. I do experience those qualities even now. I just want more. I desire to "pray without ceasing," so that my everyday would be shot through with His presence. That means ceasing to pretend that I have my act together, and admitting that yes, Lord, I need you now and always.

The best part of all this is that I don't need to find a revolutionary new way to experience God. He abides with me already. May my eyes be open and my hand closed tight around His finger . . . as Ellie's is around mine.
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother . . .
 
O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore.

-Psalm 131

15 November 2013

Weekend linkage // 7QT #14

Linked up with Conversion Diary.

1)

J: So that's my idea. Does its logic seem unassailable to you?
Me: Honey, determining the quality of logic is not my strong point.
J: Oh, fine. Does that idea feel good to you?

2)

Ellie figured out how to sit up on her own, and she is also having a lot of fun on her play mat: wiggling in circles on her belly, rolling back and forth, sticking her big diapered bottom up in the air in an attempt to crawl. It's very funny and cute.

It also makes me realize just how much she has grown. Not physically (she's still a shrimp) so much as in her ability-- only seven and a half months ago, she was a sleepy little lump who barely knew how to nurse. Now look at her! Even her voice has changed and sounds "older." I am amazed at how quickly her personality is unfolding, and how much fun she brings to our home.

3)

I adore Improv Everywhere. Carousel races in the park!

4)

Also to make you laugh, animals trying to fit in small spaces.

5)

The 12 most annoying email habits. I don't find some of these as irritating as the author does (some are more applicable to business email than to personal) but for the most part, please, everybody read and apply . . .

6)

I want to live here.

7)

Rambling, history-packed, fascinating article on the dehumanization of public figures, specifically those who occupy a throne: "Royal Bodies." Just a couple of excerpts for you.
A few years ago I saw the Prince of Wales at a public award ceremony. I had never seen him before, and at once I thought: what a beautiful suit! What sublime tailoring! It’s for Shakespeare to penetrate the heart of a prince, and for me to study his cuff buttons. I found it hard to see the man inside the clothes . . . I couldn’t help winding the fabric back onto the bolt and pricing him by the yard.

Popular fiction about the Tudors has also been a form of moral teaching about women’s lives, though what is taught varies with moral fashion. It used to be that Anne Boleyn was a man-stealer who got paid out. Often, now, the lesson is that if Katherine of Aragon had been a bit more foxy, she could have hung on to her husband. Anne as opportunist and sexual predator finds herself recruited to the cause of feminism.

11 November 2013

ahoy, discoveries! vol. 13 [staying warm edition]

Shared on Simple Lives Thursday.

Do you enjoy shivering? No? Neither do I. Here area a few of my favorite ways to keep the chill off.

1) Blankets: very important for cuddling. Currently adorning our living room furniture are this fluffy striped one from West Elm and a slightly heavier but very soft one from Target. The Target blanket is big enough for two. :)

2) Little Mouse also has a thick Pottery Barn stroller blanket that keeps her toasty on walks or on the trip from house to car.

3) Eddie Bauer makes perfect down vests; I admit that I've collected more than my fair share over the years. They are obviously warm and well-made, but they also have a nice tailored shape, so you don't look like a walking marshmallow.

4) I own far too many pashmina scarves. I say "too many" because I have nowhere to conveniently store them all, and I only wear a few on a regular basis anyway. My long-standing favorite is from La Purse: the walnut color matches all of my other clothes and the fabric is lovely.

5) Hats! I lurve this one from LL Bean. Its fleece lining really does keep the wind out. Ellie has a striped cap from Under the Nile-- it's soft and stretchy, and I appreciate that it's more substantial than your typical uber-thin jobbers.

6) How about feet? I don't wear slippers, preferring a good pair of warm socks and some wonderfully clunky Danskos. Old lady chic, thank you. My brother brought me wool socks from Ireland when he was across the pond, but if you're not so fortunate as to have a globe-trotting relative these from LL Bean look toasty.

7) I've sung their praises before, but I'll do it again: HALO fleece sleep sacks are perfect for wiggly babies. Ellie would escape from a blanket (or worse, pull it over her head) but she can't Houdini her way out of these.

8) You also want something to warm your insides. Okay, there's always Johnnie Walker . . . but for everyday use how about some delicious Kenyan coffee?

08 November 2013

Weekend linkage // 7QT #13

Linked up with ye olde Conversion Diary.

1)

Green beans: not just for eating anymore.


(That pathetic specimen is what you get after 10 minutes of slobbering, squeezing, and whacking from a seven-month-old. She didn't actually consume any of it. It afforded us a relatively peaceful dinnertime, though.)

2)

World War II on Twitter!

3)

I could probably link you to something by Matt Walsh every single week. He's bold, sometimes over the top, but also very well worth the read. I appreciate his willingness to say what a lot of the rest of us are thinking!

This time, stop telling other people how to raise their children. "As far as I can tell, from my own .000000001 percent experience, there is only one strategy that absolutely every parent in the world ought to adopt: love your children. Love them . . . The opinions of the self-appointed jury don’t matter, because those people don’t love your kids. Not like you do. They also don’t know them. Not like you do. They speak in the abstract, based on their experience with their own children. But their own children aren’t your children, and the distinction is absolutely relevant."

(Reminds me of this funny onesie. I wouldn't go quite that far, as I actually appreciate advice, but I would say: don't expect me to implement all your suggestions. I will certainly listen to you, but in the end, I'm the mom and this is my baby!)

4)

"Let's Not Cut Christ to Pieces": Michael Horton on truth and homosexuality in Christianity Today. "It's precisely because our bodies are too important to the biblical drama that they cannot be exempted from biblical discipleship."

5)

Hehe.

6)

So sweet: "One Day Young," portraits of mothers and babies one day postpartum. We have pictures of me and (a very squishy) Ellie that early on, but they aren't nearly as beautiful as these. :)

7)

If you enjoy natural living resources-- from real food recipes to homemade skin care to medicinal herbs and essential oils-- you might be interested in an amazing deal available right now: The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle. For only $29.97, you get over $1000 worth of e-books, video courses, and live conference calls with super-smart people. Not to mention cool bonuses . . . like a free sourdough starter!

I purchased this bundle and wanted to share the opportunity with ya'll too. Honestly, the bonuses alone make it worthwhile. (Like the $15 coupon for Trilight Health, where I was going to place an order anyway this winter. That coupon recoups half of the bundle price already!) Of course, I am psyched about the 86 e-books too. Believe me, I will actually use this stuff.

 If you'd like to check it out, know that there are only 2 days left: the deal ends tomorrow.

06 November 2013

(chiro)practically speaking

Shared on Simple Lives Thursday

Look, I made a pun! It will never happen again.

If you are expecting a baby, I highly recommend finding a good chiro practice. I've been going to the same chiropractor for 14 years, and I took Ellie as a matter of course once she arrived. Not only did he adjust me all through pregnancy, which I'm convinced was the cause of Ellie's perfect positioning during delivery, but he also saw Ellie when she was only a month old and will continue to have her as a patient as long as she wants.

She has actually been there four times as often as she has been to the pediatrician. (Which was exactly once. They said that I should have given Ellie the Hep B vaccine immediately after she was born, tsk tsk, and that I would never forgive myself for letting her sleep on her stomach. I said goodbye.)

Here's why you need to find a chiropractor you trust: it will look like he is hurting your baby. He isn't, but you need to be confident about that, because she will probably holler like the dickens and get redder than a pickled beet.

To listen to Little Mouse during her adjustment, you'd think she was in the worst pain of her life. I know that my chiro is very skilled and careful, though, and that she is crying out of confusion rather than pain. Who is this strange person and why is he touching my leg? This feels weird! Get me out of here! As soon as he gives her back to me, she buries her sniffles into my shoulder and stops wailing.

not Ellie, but this sums up her opinion of the chiropractor

I don't like it when my daughter cries, but the benefits of chiropractic care are worth five minutes of screeching. I was dumbfounded by the difference made by Ellie's first adjustment. She was so much more relaxed! Before, she had been either scrunching up like a pillbug or hyperextending her back. After, she could lie completely straight, without any tension in her muscles. Her collarbone and hips had been locked up from birth.

In conclusion, do think about looking into a good chiropractor for your bebe. Birth is physically traumatic, even if it goes "smoothly." And a baby's sleep and digestion can be helped tremendously by proper alignment-- not to mention an array of health issues like congestion, allergies, and ear infections. I am grateful for the excellent care we've received from our chiropractor and think that more people should know about this alternative, even for the tiniest ones in the family.

(OBVIOUSLY I am not a doctor . . . these are my experiences for you to consider. I feel that I must put in a disclaimer, lest anyone sue me and my empty piggy bank. And yes, there are shady chiropractors out there. Google "chiropractic baby health" and you'll get some horror stories; suspicious characters taint every medical profession, even if they are an extreme rarity. So as always, please please do your research and don't be scared by the bad apples.)

04 November 2013

it's pretty special dust

Adam and Eve Driven Out (detail), Gustave Dore
We just don't know how to think about bodies anymore.

Jared and I often take walks around the city. A few months ago, as we pushed Ellie's stroller through the square, we passed a young man in a t-shirt that proclaimed his love for a certain part of female anatomy. I couldn't believe my eyes. He carried no hint of shame. Evidently, the human body can now be dissected and lewdly splattered on an article of clothing; I bet the only consequence that young man got was laughs from the bros.

Of course you constantly see this kind of sad objectification in advertising, even when it's not obscene. Most commercials and billboards use bodies to sell product. Ever see an ugly person in a Got Milk ad? Thought not.

Sadly, because of this crude cheapening of the body, formerly everyday things have taken on a questionable tint. Nursing babies, for example. Although there's nothing scandalous about feeding a child, many folks today act like there is. You know why? Because once you make everything about sex, that's all people see.

As another example, I have some really cute pictures of Ellie in the bathtub, but they'll never see the light of the internet. I don't see anything wrong with an innocent little baby in her birthday suit, but there are perverts trawling the web for exactly such images. Honestly, I have considered erasing most of the Ellie pictures I've posted on my blog. I don't want to be paranoid but I know that it's a nasty world out there, and it can be hard to find the line between "open" and "overshare."

---

In much of Western culture our bodies have become mere vehicles for expressing and experiencing an eviscerated sexuality. This offends and angers me at times; mostly, it just makes me sad. We're so much more than that. Our souls, and yes our bodies, bear the imprint of God. We may be mere dust, but it's pretty special dust.

I wonder how much it must grieve Him to see His creation prostituted on the altar of self. I wonder how much He must long to see our minds renewed, to see ourselves and one another for what we are: men and women shaped to show His glory.

When I see desperate pop stars making fools of themselves, or fifth graders strutting down the sidewalk in booty shorts, I tend to feel more pity than outrage. Our world is so confused.

---

Sidenote: despite my strong opinions in favor of nursing I do not promote, shall we say, "militant breastfeeding." I feed my baby when she is hungry, but I don't have to flash the world in the process. I hardly think that shock tactics are going to change people's minds, and in the hopes that a mom quietly nursing her baby will soon be no more remarkable than a mom warming up a bottle, I believe that I can help the cause along by being normal instead of obnoxious.

More thoughts later.

01 November 2013

Weekend linkage // 7QT #12

Linked up with Conversion Diary.

1)

"You are my favorite hedgehog."
-J gets his flattery on

2)

Ellie is really into growling and roaring. The other night I put her to bed and she grrrrrr'd at the sheets for about fifteen minutes before falling asleep. A fierce one, this child.

Her favorite toys at the moment are a pith-helmeted Duplo man, the zipper on Mama's sweatshirt, and vitamin bottles (they rattle!).

3)

Fascinating story: the most honored photograph in US military history.


4)

"Strike a Pose": good thoughts from a friend of mine on social media "self-portraits" and the importance of examining our motivations.

5)

Now it's time for funny things!

Putting pop lyrics to classical melodies.

Proof that Plato was really Dumbledore . . . or vice versa.

IKEA or Death, the game that tests your knowledge of IKEA product names and black metal bands. I only scored 12/20, so come on, surely you can beat that.

What would happen if slogan writers were honest. ("Kmart: We Still Exist.")

6)

I've come across several nice Tumblrs in my search for a new Firefox home page: Inspired, Hello Pretty Things, Life Is Beautiful, Grey and Scout, Scattered as My Mother's Pearls, and-- the current winner-- You Make Beautiful Things. I enjoy seeing "beautiful" when I open up the computer.

(What is your home page and why did you choose it?)

7)

Now I leave you with the eternal question, courtesy of Smithsonian. Why were medieval knights always fighting snails?