We transitioned back to Cambodia this month. It was so good to arrive back home and see our friends and teammates again. We put our house back together and started home school as soon as possible, leaving me tired but happy. Having our own space again allowed me more time to spend alone with God, something I desperately needed. And while I’m still not doing any substantial writing, I did want to share the words and music that shaped my month. Enjoy! ~Elizabeth
Coming Clean by Seth Haines. Such a good book. This memoir chronicles the first 90 days of Seth’s sobriety, but it isn’t only for those who struggle with alcohol. It’s for people who numb their pain by any method. The core pain in Seth’s life was disappointment with (and subsequent doubt in) a God who didn’t seem to heal or answer prayer. His use of language is beautiful and poetic yet clear and understandable. You can get a glimpse of his story by listening to this interview.
Looming Transitions by Amy Young. My blogging friend Amy asked if I would read and review her upcoming book on transitions. I wasn’t able to finish it before the official book launch in January because I was, ironically enough, taking her advice to stay grounded in Christ during transition, so I chose to read my Bible instead of her book. Now that I’m resettled in Cambodia, I finally finished it, and I can tell you it’s chock full of clear and practical advice, including several helpful metaphors — the most important of which is about soil and farming. Also watch for the section on transitive and intransitive verbs that got my husband asking me what I was laughing so hard about.
Where We Have Gone Sideways by Kirstin McGrath. A beautiful meditation on Eden and wanting More. Velvet Ashes had great content this month on the theme of Eden, and Kirstin’s post in particular had me pondering something new.
Get Thirsty by Patty Stallings. How to cultivate a thirst for God, and how to quench said thirst. Velvet Ashes also had awesome content on the theme of Thirsty. Incidentally, both “Eden” and “Thirsty” were based off major themes in Amber Haines’ memoir Wild in the Hollow. (And to make just one more connection here, Amber Haines and Seth Haines are married. To each other.)
Gifts without Bows: Telling and Receiving Stories as They Are by Craig Thompson. Don’t be fooled, this seemingly Christmas-themed post is applicable all year round. Do we have people with whom we can be honest, people with whom we do not need to prettily package up our stories? I do, and I pray you do, too.
The Radical Spiritual Art of Staying Put by Stephanie Ebert. I relate to so much in this spiritual memoir, even though I’m not a missionary kid! I think everyone can relate to something in this post, as Stephanie pretty much covers the entire gamut of American Christianity in the last forty years or so, but you’ll especially relate if you’ve worked or grown up in missions or ministry.
Travel Delusions by Hsu-Ann Lee. An honest examination of the effects of international travel on our identity — and on our pride.
On How Elephants Can Escape Their Chains, and We Can Too by Anita Mathias. How does Anita do it, manage to write my heart and my struggles, over and over again? Sometimes I really struggle with forgiving others. (I’ve also found Rachel Pieh Jones’ article on forgiveness to be helpful both in redefining what forgiveness means and also how to do it.)
Thirsty by Michele Womble. Don’t miss this poem by a fellow overseas worker! I found it when she linked up with Velvet Ashes for their “Thirsty” theme.
“Petrichor” by Kathleen Brewin Lewis. I shared this as a photo last month on Facebook. I found the poem on my friend’s fridge:
Two geologists made this word from the Greek, petros for stone, and ichor, for the liquid that flows through the veins of the gods.
They wanted to name the scent of parched earth after fresh rain: The reconstituted redolence of salted silt marbled with terra cotta.
This old, dry world brought back to loamy life – another name for mercy.
The Official Teaching From Rest Book Club by Sarah Mackenzie. I would LOVE home school parents’ input on these ideas. I haven’t yet read her book Teaching from Rest, but I follow her blog and Facebook page, and I’ve watched these book club videos. They are so intriguing, the ideas so attractive. Please let me know what you think about these teaching concepts! And any idea on how to implement them?? Would love to have a conversation.
What is Scholé? by Dr. Christopher Perrin and Sarah Mackenzie. I’m enchanted by the educational ideas in these videos. Scholé means “restful learning,” the kind of conversing and philosophizing that happens among good friends with good food and drink. It’s the kind of thing I loved as a teenager and still love as an adult. My only question — how to make this practically happen in a home school setting??
“I Shall Not Want” by Audrey Assad. Ever since I heard this song at the onething 2015 conference in late December, it’s been in my head and on my lips. “I shall not want, no I shall not want, when I taste Your goodness, I shall not want.” Can’t say enough good things about this song, or her voice. This is the live version I heard.
Mercy by Amanda Cook. “You delight in showing mercy, and mercy triumphs over judgment.” I also heard this at the onething 2015 conference, and it stayed with me. At the conference Amanda said, “The only One worthy to judge delights in showing mercy.” I would do well to remember this, for both myself and others. This is the live version I heard.
I Still Believe by Kim Walker-Smith. I first fell in love with this song a couple years ago, and I heard it again on Jonathan’s phone as we were packing to come back to Cambodia. Then I heard it again on my little iPod shuffle over the Pacific. And then strangely enough, the iPod shuffled back to it again before we landed. So I thought perhaps God was trying to tune my ears to its message.
You Satisfy My Soul by Laura Hackett Park. “Thirsty” week at Velvet Ashes had me remembering this song (which beautifully complements Audrey’s song, don’t you think?).
Leslie Verner, in her Velvet Ashes post When You Feel Spiritually Dehydrated . . . Again:
“On a recent road trip, my three-year-old son cried for his water cup. I eventually took off my seatbelt as my husband drove and I craned my arm back to search for his cup. I finally found it—under his arm. Immediately following, my one-year-old daughter shrieked for her water. I found it on the floorboard, but as soon as I handed it to her she hurled it back down. And it occurred to me that these are the two ways we often approach God’s attempts to quench our soul: we either don’t notice His provision for us or we throw the spiritual nourishment back in His face because it doesn’t fit our rules for what is ‘spiritual enough.’”
These are the first words spoken in the television show Christy, which I’ve been watching with my girls. They are beautiful (and they reminded me of my old post How Do You Write Your Name in the Land? ):
“The Great Smokies. Nothing in my life had prepared me for the wonder of those mountains. Smoke blue and serene, folded one behind the other. I counted eleven ranges rising up toward the vault of the sky. I didn’t realize it then, but from the very first moment I saw them, the mountains were a source of peace and strength to me, always there to quiet my mind and satisfy my heart.”
Also regarding place, from C.S. Lewis’s The Pilgrim’s Regress (and found in Amy Young’s book):
“Be sure it is not for nothing that the Landlord has knit our hearts so closely to time and place — to one friend rather than another and one shire more than all the land.”
Dan Scott, metallurgical engineer, as quoted in the Fall/Winter 2015 volume of Missouri S&T Magazine. I thought they applied to more than just engineering:
“In the synthetic diamond industry that I work in, we aim to build products that last. The best way to do that is to take a step back and look at the worn products. To get to the root cause of what had limited the life and see if we can either improve it or create something entirely new.”
In America I was chatting with a long-time friend who is both a fellow engineer and a fellow home school mom. We were discussing (among other things) creation, God, and atheism. I mentioned that everyone worships something; atheists just stop at the cosmos. (You know this is true if you’ve ever heard an atheist speak about the universe; they hold the cosmos in high esteem.) My friend Vicki replied thus:
“Of course! It doesn’t require anything of them.” (Which was both incredibly true and something I had never, ever thought of before.)
From fellow missionary Chris Lautsbaugh (who blogs here):
“One of my students said the other day, ‘Grace is nonsense (in a good way).’ I like this. Grace is mind blowing, it is not rational, it sounds like a scandal, but oh so amazing.”
“The older you get, the harder it is to fill your heart with wonder, and only God is big enough to fill it.”
“Bewilderment is true comprehension.”
“A comprehended god is no god at all.”
“You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they can find rest in you.”
Miss Alice in the book and television show Christy, quoting her father. A guiding light for parents:
“Before God, I’ve just one duty as a father. That is to see that thee has a happy childhood tucked under thy jacket.”
And on that note, here are some parenting notes from Allen Hood at the onething 2015 conference. I’ve mentioned in other places that I dislike parenting books and can hardly stand to crack them open, let alone finish them. Even so, God has been teaching me a lot about parenting over the past several years, and each word Allen shared resonated deeply with me, mirroring my own journey — which is why I’m sharing his advice below.
- Ask our heavenly Father to reveal His heart to us.
- Ask the Lord to turn our hearts toward our children.
- Ask our children to forgive our shortcomings.
- Talk about porn without shame. Fight the battle together.
- Record our family’s memories.
- Keep an unwavering commitment to our spouses.