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Recommended reads.

3 Jul

I read for about six hours last night.

 I read through dinner.  I read as Mabel and I went for a walk.  [One of the many joys of a kindle – very easy to read and walk.]  I read past my bedtime.

A couple days ago, a friend posted on Instagram a photo of two books.  Her caption was something like, 950 pages in two days.  I got excited.  I love books like that.  The kind you fly through and the kind that you can’t stop thinking about.  The kind – when you have to do other stuff like, uh, work – that infiltrate your mind so all you think about is when you can start reading that next chapter.

Yeah.  These are those books.  It’s the Divergent series by Veronica Roth.  It’s very Hunger Games-esque young adult fiction.  Only two of the three are currently released.  They’re by no means new to the scene either.  Both New York Times bestsellers, I’ve somehow missed them until now.  As of 12:45 this morning, I’m about halfway through the second one.  I’ll finish it tonight.  Then I have to wait until October.  October.

Sometimes I feel a little weird, getting sucked so deeply into books written for teens.  But then I don’t care.  Books are books.  And I love a book you can’t put down.

Highly recommended, folks.  But probably best to read when you have a free weekend.  [I was going to wait until this long weekend to read them.  But then I didn’t.]


27 Mar

This post begins with the connection between Rachel Held Evans and Henri Nouwen.

That sentence might make you say who?  Rachel Held Evans is the theologian and author of the book I quoted just a while ago on the blog.  Henri Nouwen was a theologian and priest; an author of many, many books, one of which I too just quoted a bit ago here.  I follow Rachel on twitter and read her blog.  I have more than a couple Nouwen books on my shelves and I pull them out from time to time; I find them full of enriching nuggets of faith and comfort.

This week, these two separate worlds collided in a super meaningful way.  I clicked on a tweet from Rachel with a link to her recent blog post; she’s been facilitating a discussion on gay marriage on her blog and using two separate books to guide the conversation. Both books are by gay men of faith but while one has chosen celibacy, the other believes a relationship with another man could be blessed by God.  [Curious more?  Here is the post of which I speak.]

Here is where my mind was blown: one of the books Rachel uses speaks of dear Mr. Nouwen at length.  I did not know that Nouwen was gay; heck, I didn’t even know that he was a priest before I began to eavesdrop on this conversation.  I knew that I loved his writing and that was about it.  But now, as it turns out, I love it more because I can relate to the places from which it comes.

Henri Nouwen was lonely.  He wrestled intensely with loneliness, persistent cravings for affection and attention, immobilizing fears of rejection, and a restless desire to find a home where he could feel safe and cared for. [p. 87]  To quote Rachel who quotes the book which quotes Philip Yancey –

Nouwen, who later in life confessed that he had known since he was six years old that he was attracted to members of his own sex, would, in lectures and books, “speak of the strength he gained from living in community, then drive to a friend’s house, wake him up at two in the morning, and, sobbing, ask to be held.”

Now granted, I am fully aware that I am not a celibate gay priest [really?  really.], nor am I in the least  marginalized because of my sexual orientation, but gosh, to some degree, I can relate to that.

I have begun the very healthy and wise practice of seeing a counselor.  We’ve only met twice but I can see why people do this.  It will be fruitful.  Just this last time we met, I was talking about something or other and her response to me was, It sounds like you’re lonely.  Bingo.

I’m still not super sure what to do about that besides – for some insane reason – choosing to be super vulnerable with the world and spill it on the blog.  [As if you didn’t already know.]  Knowing what I do about Henri Nouwen and as I google search and order his biography to learn more, I find myself drawn to his writing in deeper ways.  There are perhaps some other life changes looming on my horizon, too. I realize that I need to facilitate the move from being lonely; I think I’m working on it.  We’ll see where life takes me; hopefully in the direction of community, new friends, and a world of less lonely.

Hey. It’s the favorites of Friday.

22 Mar

[Hey.  It’s the favorites of Friday.]

Favorite tea: Apple cinnamon.   It’s now part of my bedtime routine.  Tea + a chapter of Pride and Prejudice.

Favorite blog post: This post is by the former pastor at my home congregation.  It resonated with me and where I’m at currently.   Worship is a contact sport.  I probably wouldn’t be a pastor if Pastor Clint hadn’t nominated me for a scholarship at seminary … before I ever said I would even go to seminary.  Funny how that worked.

Favorite craft: It’s quite nearly Easter.  I love Easter.  Loved it since I was a child.  [Fun Lindsay fact #396: I used to host “Easter parties” at the farm for my friends.  I would plan elaborate Easter games and my brothers & cousins would hide Easter eggs for us to find, usually under dead birds or with the candy switched mysteriously for dog poop.]  Sadly, I have little energy or people with whom to have Easter parties these days … but if I did, we might dye eggs in these trendy ways.

Favorite story: I visited a gentleman at the care center.  I was getting ready to leave, shook his hand, and told him I should be on my way.  Good, he said.  I was going to ask you to leave because I have to pee.  Perfect timing.

Favorite pin: A quote from Lemony Snicket.

Favorite videos: This Sunday is Palm Sunday.  Prepare yourself for Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem with these two videos.  Please.  They’re awesome.

This video was made in part by the talents [both media and harlem shaking as Jesus] by Kevin, the brother to my bestie, Sara, and a former coworker of mine from Stillwater.  We shared a basement office with no windows together.

Nothing like a little liturgical dance by Stephen Colbert. 

A meditation.

21 Mar

[A meditation.]

At any given moment, I’m in the middle of approximately five books.  It’s a blessing and a curse.  Currently, they’re all non-fiction and non-fiction books & I get along in the beginning.  But we rarely make it to the end.  I’m about half-way through all of them.  I’ll pick one up, then another, all while forgetting about the third [and forth and fifth] still sitting on the shelf.

One current read is A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans.  It’s delightful; I don’t think I’ll have trouble making it to the end of this one.  And within its digital pages on my kindle, I found an ancient meditation by St. Teresa of Avila that I love.  I should pray it each and every day.

Let nothing upset you,
Let nothing startle you.
All things pass;
God does not change.
Patience wins all it seeks.
Whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone is enough.

God alone is enough.  Amen.

Friday Favorites.

15 Mar

[Friday Favorites.]

I’m into reading about food lately.  Books by chefs and cool people like that.  Current reads: The Sweet Life in Paris by my favorite Parisan food blogger and An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler.

Travel Cat on travel site.  Apparently people submit photos of cats while traveling.  This particular one is by @theangryskittle, aka my older brother.

Oh, no, you didn’t.  I’m drooling at the computer.  [almond-thumbprint-cookies-with-dark-chocolate-and-sea-salt.]  These should be on my weekend to-do list.  If I had people to share it with, I would be making this for Sunday – Magic Munch for St.Patty’s.  Since we’re talking about food [always], I’ve made this recipe for sweet potato fries with avocado twice in the last week.  It’s the paprika.

If my hair is losing its curl, what does this then mean?

Source: via Priscilla on Pinterest

And isn’t this the truth –

Source: Uploaded by user via Kristina on Pinterest

That’s all for today, folks.  Happy weekend!

a thankful november: new gnome.

27 Nov
There was a package on my doorstep today.  It came from Alaska and had a gnome inside.
See, my brother, Ben, went to the local library book basket auction.  [I guess it’s a thing.]  There was a gnome basket for auction; it’s the one he went home with and the one he then transferred to a box to send to me.  There are gardening tools, seeds, a book on container gardening [perfect for me!], and a new gnome.
I was digging through the box, pulling the items out one by one and excited about the contents.  Whoever put the basket together for auction is awesome and quite possibly my long lost twin.  I set the heavy gnome on the counter.  I shall call him Gandalf the Green.  He has a walking stick. 
I kept going thru the box contents and found one last book.  It’s then that I realized the error of my ways – my gnome collecting ways.  That one last book?  How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack: Defend Yourself When the Lawn Warriors Strike (And They Will).  Shit.  My gnomes are going to kill me.
My collection of gnomes?  People sending me new gnomes for my collection?  And those poor people in Dawson, surrounded by gnomes!  I suddenly was aware that I wasn’t simply gathering cute and innocent gnomes in my corner curio cabinet.  I’m freakin’ helping them achieve their evil endgame by bringing them together.  The dark one is gathering all armies to him.  It won’t be long now.  He will soon be ready to make his last war that will cover all the world in darkness.  [Just a little LOTR for you.  To make Gandalf the Green feel at home.]
Needless to say, this package from my brother may be more than simple thoughtfulness and fun.  This package will help me survive the inevitable garden gnome attacks. 
This package may save my life.  


5 Jun
Pastor Siri, a former coworker of mine at Trinity in Stillwater, is leading a group of people in reading the book Sabbath by Wayne Muller.  It’s a book that has been on my shelf since it was recommended to me during CPE and a book that I still haven’t read all the way through in those last three years.  I’m thankful for Siri’s structure and accountability in finally reading it as I join in the virtual reading group.  
today’s ponder text.
There is a schedule; a couple chapters a week for the summer.  Throughout it all, Siri will text us questions to ponder and thoughts, along with blogging about it on her blog.  Chances are I’ll be blogging about it too.
She sent the first group text today and it encouraged me to start my reading of the book this evening.  

To be unavailable to our friends and family, to be unable to find time for a sunset … to whiz through our obligations without time for a single mindful breath, this has become the model for a successful life.  [Sabbath, p. 2-3]

Muller’s theory is further proved by a commercial on the television just a moment ago.  I don’t even recall what company it was for but this company prided itself in being “unwilling to rest.”  That’s exactly what Muller talks about – we don’t rest and … that’s become a positive thing?  

While many of us are terribly weary, we have come to associate tremendous guilt and shame with taking time to rest. [p.8]  

I can relate to everything he writes and thus, I’m declaring my summer one of sabbath.  That doesn’t mean a summer of vacations or simply making sure I get one full day off a week.  It’s more than that.  It’s a restored rhythm to living.  It’s a way of effortless, nourishing rest. It’s said best by Muller –

Sabbath is a way of being in time where we remember who we are, remember what we know, and taste the gifts of the Spirit and eternity. [p. 6]

Yeah.  That.  That’s what I’m aiming for this summer.  Hold me to it, will you? 

here’s my joy.

28 Apr
Knowing that this week the cards are stacked against me time-wise [easily a sixty-hour work week.  one to match the sixty from this past week.], I’m going to need a little joy in my life.  Knowing the emotions that will be involved, I’m really going to need a little joy.  Knowing how much my extroverted impostor will need to appear, I’m going to need lots of sleep too.  But in the brief times between work and sleep, herein lies my joy:

 Books scored at the Austin Public Library book sale.  These books – plus a few more – were only a total of $6.50.  You can’t even buy a book used on Amazon for that price when you add shipping to the shopping cart.  Who knows – I might not end up reading any of them this week, but simply looking at them brings me joy.  I love books.

My newest friend.  I love my treadmill.  I was super worried that because it has been so long since I’ve really been on one that it would be super hard and I would be disappointed at how little I could do.  Surprisingly enough, the couch-to-5k program hasn’t been putting me over the edge.  I can so do it!  And even though the program says not to do any more, I do.  I just love my treadmill too much.  [One of the things I love so much is that it’s in my house.  I don’t need to be concerned about how I look or my flailing arms.]
I have baby quilts dancing in my head.  I have one to be done in July and two for December.  [Twins!  I still can’t contain my excitement!]  I think I’m going scrappy for July.  I’m thinking small squares.  As for December, I’d love to know what the parents might like when that time comes.  🙂  [Sometimes I feel like I force a quilt on people.  But parents like quilts for babies, right?]
Project cakepop.  I started baking cakes today.  Cakes to be frozen, transformed into pops at a later date, and enjoyed at a wedding on June 1st!
While I know I’m going to be busy, I also know I need projects, and I’m in love with each one of those above.  I’m excited for the books to be read, jogs to be had, quilts to be made, and cakes to be baked.  That is my joy.


14 Nov
Do you remember DEAR time from elementary school?  [Drop Everything And Read]  I loved DEAR time.  I was that kid with her nose in a book all the time.  All the time.  
I hereby reinstate DEAR time in my life.
When I was at the fall theological conference, it seemed people were constantly suggesting I read this book or that.  They would tell me that this one book sounded a lot like what I was going through or talking about or they found that one other book really helpful in their first year of call.  Forget the pile of books that are already on my shelves, waiting to be read or reread post-seminary [now with a context to which apply them].
I hereby promise to make the best attempt I can to read for 30 minutes during each work day.  Thirty minutes of theological, devotional, or educational reading.  Maybe more.
I always felt guilty sitting in my office and reading.  I felt like I should be doing something.  Fall theological helped me realize that reading is doing something and it is part of my job.  It belongs in the office and deserves at least 30 minutes of my day.  jD and I are holding each other accountable … or at least trying.
First up: Sabbath, by Wayne Muller.
Perfect in many ways for my life right now.  Perfect because I often feel like this:

A ‘successful’ life has become a violent enterprise.  We make war on our own bodies, pushing them beyond their limits; war on our children, because we cannot find enough time to be with them when they are hurt and afraid, and need our company; war on our spirit, because we are too preoccupied to listen to the quiet voices that seek to nourish and refresh us; war on our communities, because we are fearfully protecting what we have, and do not feel safe enough to be kind and generous; war on the earth, because we cannot take the time to place our feet on the ground and allow it to feed us, to taste its blessings and give thanks. [p. 2]

And want the ability to feel like this:

Sabbath implies a willingness to be surprised when creation renews itself, when what is finished inevitably recedes, and the sacred forces of healing astonish us with the unending promise of love and life. [p. 37]  

literary creation.

5 Aug
How in love am I with this idea?
Thank you, npr.
“… the world [is] more than a place.  
Life [is] more than an event.  
It [is] all one thing, and that thing [is]: story.”
photo credit due here.
The author continues to write that if life is all a story, then we are the narrators.  But in order to be narrators, we must be attentive.  We have to wake up and listen.  To look for a story in unlikely places and then take the time to share what we saw.  He compares the world to a library, lending and sharing stories to those who take the time to check them out.
That’s one thing this blog does for me.  I see stories and deliberately take the time to narrate them.  It’s my virtual scrapbook and journal.  I take note of the things that happen and write them down to share.  I find joy in rereading the stories from weeks, months, and years past but also find happiness in knowing that these stories are shared and enjoyed by others – by you.  But now I must ask – how are you being attentive and sharing your stories?  Blogs, raps, haikus, letters, napkin notes and posters on the wall.  Be creative in your sharing and live your own life as an act of literary creation.  Eyes open and pen at the ready … ready? set? live.
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