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Friday Five2

Hello, December! Pay day and holiday wassail fest on the square and Friday, all in one. Happy day!

Here are a few things I liked on the intrawebs this week:

  1. Sarah Bessey reposted this from a few years ago. I still love it. Advent is for those who know longing.
  2. This made me laugh – brutal Christmas card. Same, Emily. Same.
  3. Abby Norman also reposted one of her (and my) favorite posts about December. December, we take your joy without your nonsense.
  4. Oven mitts for people like me. Also tea cups. Just in case you are looking for gift ideas.
  5. And finally – Dear Academy, please take all my money. I love this response.

Happy Friday!

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AdventWord

I’m gearing up for the first Sunday of Advent this weekend. Advent is one of my favorite seasons…in theory. I love it, but I want to do all the complicated things to make it Meaningful with a capital M. Which I recognize in my head is ridiculous. Especially for a season that is all about waiting and expectation and hoping, which frankly often means a whole lot of sitting around in stillness and quiet.

But last year, I endeavored to light the candles every day. Which in itself is not that much. But then after I lit the candle, I wanted to complete all the readings from the Book of Common Prayer for the day, which is not a bad goal but maybe not one to take on suddenly during one of the busiest months when I am not so great at doing that on a regular basis any other time of the year. Then after I read all the readings, I wanted to complete an art journal page reflecting the readings and also the word prompt from Advent Word (see image above) for the day that I had in my Advent calendar (which the previous year I had knitted and sewed together with my own two hands). This ritual was designed to play out against a playlist of seasonal hymns, perfectly timed to last the length that it took to finish all of the above.

This is not what waiting looks like. I’m exhausted just reading about it.

As you can imagine, there weren’t many days this actually happened. Specifically, looking back on my journal, I see that there were seven days out of the whole four weeks when I had time to do all of that, and I vividly remember doing two days’ pages at once on more than one occasion. Plans are only as good as their execution, so as plans go, this one was not awesome.

This year still has a plan, because otherwise Advent will pass on by without my giving it a thought other than on Sundays and Wednesdays. But it’s a slower plan that’s more conducive to hope and peace and joy and expectation. I still (will) have the candles (as soon as I buy them), because that part I did do every day last year, even if it was just during dinner. I will still use my cute calendar, but this year, as I have discovered that its little pockets are the perfect size for a tea bag or an Emergen-C packet or a single-serve bottle of hooch, I will simply be enjoying a daily beverage along with my candles/supper/staring at the Christmas tree lights.

There will likely be music in the background from my record player or a Spotify playlist. I will probably still read through some of the daily readings, as that is a habit I’d like to pick up this year, but I’m not going to make an issue of it or feel like I’m running behind if I don’t. I will also sporadically play along on Instagram with Advent Word or with Susannah Conway’s December Reflections prompts, because that’s fun.

But no extra stress or unreasonable to-do lists. Just waiting. And hope. And expecting. And joy. That’s what I hope to take from Advent this year.

 

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I am totally into the weather we’re having. It’s cool and fall-ish. So I’m going to ignore that it’s supposed to get to 91 degrees outside tomorrow. Not even going to mention it. I don’t know where you heard that.

This month, I was quite the joiner. I participated in Write 31 Days, of course. I was challenged to post seven days of black and white photos with no comment, but my comment is just that I loved doing that. The two above were my favorites. I also participated in Million Mile Month, although I definitely did not meet my goal.

Running is hard. And walking is slow.

Writing:

My 31 Days project was about running (specifically, how to do it and not get maimed or dead). It was fun (the writing part – not so much the running part). I love the momentum it gives me to post more regularly. To keep that spirit going, I am going to start reviving old posts from my livejournal days. I hope that you will enjoy these little nuggets of nostalgia.

For November, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo, although I’m being cheaty about it and working on a current project. I’m not allowed to start any other writing projects until I finish at least one of my current ones. I’m putting my foot down. So November will be focused on (and hopefully getting close to finishing) Fishbowl.

Reading:

My favorite book I read this month – maybe this year – was Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I love the characterization and the way it drove the story. I also re-read Christopher Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood PalThe library had the leather-bound version, and that was fun. Our book club from church had a lively discussion about the book.

I’m currently working through some Brene Brown (I’m on Braving the Wilderness) and reliving my childhood with The Boxcar Children. What are you reading?

Miscellaneous:

Work is in its slowest season, so I took a week off from work this month. I visited my parents and tried to rest. Yesterday was the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing the 95 Theses to the door, and our church celebrated by participating in a Hymn Fest with three other choirs on Sunday. It was awesome. I enjoyed that a lot.

And last but not least – I know I’m late to the party on this but I am addicted to Burt Bees lipstick. My lips have been super dry lately, and this not only helps alleviate some of that but also makes me look fancy.

What are you into this month? Comment below or join us at Leigh Kramer’s link-up page.

 

 

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Not Friday Five

So Friday got away from me last week, but I have some gems to share with you from the Internet, so here we are on Monday.

Summer is my second wind of trying new things. It’s also the season that I tend to eat the best (because really, it’s just too hot to eat anything but salad and fruit. And also snow cones). So a lot of the things that stick out to me that I want to save for later are food and indoor fitness related, because running outside right now until October? That’s ridiculous. And then there are the things that always stick out to me, like livable wages and social experiments. So…enjoy!

  1. I also like tacos, though, and so I need this book. I’m not sure this can be considered a cleanse in the traditional sense, but I’m willing to listen. Because tacos.
  2. I like stories like this, even though they’re clickbaity and possibly staged and insert-all-the-cynical-things-here. All wages should be livable. Living is what working is for.
  3. I might take tap and ballet again. That would be fun. And also indoors. Win-win.
  4. This made me laugh and laugh. Also, I can attest – accurate. Don’t #notallmen me. Because that’s not the point. The point is that it doesn’t have to happen every time; it happens enough that, statistically speaking, it’s likely just as much the result of societal conditioning as it is individual asshattery, so we as a society should look into cutting it out. Also, if you feel defensive, maybe ask yourself why. Is it because it really didn’t apply to you, or is it because maybe it applied a little and you feel uncomfortable that you may have made this impression? Honor that discomfort. Maybe deal with that instead of reacting defensively. As an aside, when I use this kind of response when people compliment me, and they like it, it makes me like them even more. My people.
  5. Last, I love this. This Gen-Xer agrees.

I’m thinking about sending another newsletter soon. I have some writing news that’s exciting and different. So if you want to hear me yammer on about it, you can sign up here. Also, there’s usually a recipe. I mean, it’s summer, so it may be for a snow cone. But it would be a delicious snow cone!

 

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Creed

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I’m eager for Easter this year.

Usually, I’m better at Lent – better at reflection, better at the grieving that ends Holy Week – than I am at celebration. But I’ve had enough of heaviness this year.

Every week, we recite the Apostle’s Creed, and sometimes the words are hard to say. Not so much the part you’re probably thinking about – the creation, the virgin birth, the resurrection. As a born mystic raised Southern Baptist, I clung to these stories. Sometimes the irrational literality of their interpretation of these mysteries was the only thing that kept me tethered to my otherwise small and rigid faith.

So…

I believe in God, the Father almighty,

creator of heaven and earth.

 I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried;

he descended to the dead.

On the third day he rose again;

he ascended into heaven,

he is seated at the right hand of the Father,

and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I have no problem saying these words. I believe in the triune God who seems to delight in making rules about how the world works just to have the fun of breaking them. That’s a God who understands us.

It’s the second part that often gives me fits. It starts off fine…

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

But then…

the holy catholic church*,

This one is hard. I hardly believe in the church at all. That is difficult for me to write. I desperately want to believe that the church could be the church. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong places, but I don’t see the church feeding the poor or caring for the other in big enough, consistent enough ways to make an impact. I include myself in this. We tend to give out of our excess rather than out of our sacrifice. I wonder how the world would change if we switched that up.

the communion of saints,

 I often feel like an outsider in my faith. I have adapted to Lutheranism, but I still feel new after being in the church for years. But hearing the talk of some friends I used to go to church with feels absolutely foreign to me. I find it harder and harder to remember what it was like to be in that headspace.

But there is grace here, too. The Lutherans handle me. I’m usually offended by things like that. I’m not fragile (she exclaims in a feral manner)! I won’t break (she whimpers)! But honestly? I’m glad for their gentleness. I’m relieved. I’m still skittish – way more than I would have been able to admit eight years ago when everything fell apart. They meet me there.

And there is grace in the moments when I voice my feelings of otherness, and a friend, visibly relieved, exhales, “Oh…me, too. I thought it was just me.”

the forgiveness of sins,

We are much more apt to look for fault and boast of our deal-breakers. I’m certainly guilty of unforgiveness, and there are cases where I haven’t forgiven myself and don’t necessarily think I deserve it. There are instances where I long to be forgiven, but if I were in their shoes, would I want to forgive me? I’m not sure I would. And yet forgiveness is central – essential – to this faith.

This is not to say that one shouldn’t have deal-breakers. It is important to know what you will not abide in relationships with others.

Nor am I saying we should rush into forgiveness under the guise of holiness. It is unhealthy to project a false peace just so I don’t have to deal with my anger and hurt. It is also useless, because Jesus can see my soul and is not fooled by my cowardly emotional shenanigans.  I suspect that a lot of what I interpret as God’s silence is Jesus sitting beside me – calm, patient, somewhat amused – as I plug my ears and hum, trying to pretend I’m not exactly where I am.

the resurrection of the body,

 The week before Palm Sunday is usually my favorite in Lent. We get the stories of Lazarus and Ezekiel and the dry bones, and hearing them is like being thrown into the rapids of a river. Those are the stories that force me to choose between sink or swim. It’s invigorating. And terrifying. And incredibly wild.

and the life everlasting. Amen.

 This part gives me pause. Everyone told me that my 40s would be better than my 30s. In a few ways, they were right. But mostly, I just feel like I’m running out of time. Like…is this it? Is this abundant life? I mean, mine is a nice, little life. I have only a few major complaints. But is nice enough to make the thought of everlasting appealing at all? If not…then what? What exactly are we asking for here?

 

In true Holy Week fashion, I have more questions than answers. What keeps me saying these words week after week is that I’m becoming more okay with that.

 

Marvia Davidson is hosting a series on Holy Week reflections, and I’m linking up. Join us?

 

*little “c” catholic, meaning the universal church

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So…thanks

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My tree is up and slowly being decorated. I haven’t seen this weird little ornament that I made during childhood in years. Thankful, step 1.

Many of my friends are talking about how hard it is to be thankful this year with so much going on that is not good.

Part of me is sympathetic – pain does make thankfulness more challenging. Another part of me is whistling to the tune of “Welcome to my world…” This is how life feels all the time when one keeps up with the news – when one chooses not to shut out the brokenness of the world to protect oneself.

After a while, you get used to holding all of it. You get used to the both/and of opposing realities. It helps to have someone to talk to (a professional, that is). It helps to actually do the things that someone suggests. It helps if you are not as stubborn as I am.

At first, you might have to take thankfulness in steps. They don’t take a lot of time, so you don’t have to ignore the ongoing developments in the DAPL protests or Trump’s bad administration choices. You don’t have to sacrifice the time it takes make calls and meet needs.

You need ten minutes. Ten minutes to list what makes the world worth saving.

Your list will look different from everyone else’s list, and no one gets to tell you what should be on your list. In fact, just throw that word “should” out the window. You won’t be needing it here.

Your list does not have to be for public consumption. Only the highlights of mine are usually public. The apartment. The space. The relative peace and quiet of a neighborhood with an older-than-college-student demographic. Friends. Family. The specifics are personal.

My readers are on my list. I’m thankful for you. So…thanks.

Feel free to share any highlights from your list in the comments.

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Snapshots 8.8.16

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“Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. ” This is the Nat King Cole song that runs through my mind (and now my speakers) as I think of what to say about last week. And although, unlike NKC, I do not wish that summer would always be here, because OMG hot, I am relishing the fact that I finally get to have a summer. I don’t even mind that it’s just a few weeks long.

I think I read more last week than during June and July combined. I had ice cream and Whataburger, and I painted my nails. I finished off the sun tea.

What does summer mean to you?

 

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