A Few of My Favorite Things {July 2017}

by Elizabeth

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Visiting another local church. Jonathan was scheduled to preach there, and we all went along to watch and listen. The song service was especially meaningful for me as the lyrics chosen were rich, contemplative, and full of truth. The songs have continued to sink deep into my soul throughout the month, and I include links to them at the end.

4th of July Family Day. The U.S. Embassy used to host a 4th of July party, and we miss not being able to participate anymore. So instead, we took the day off school and work, went swimming at a special water park, and then ate sub sandwiches at our favorite sub shop. No fireworks though. We’re excited about next year, when we can celebrate with my Mom’s family in rural Iowa.

A day to celebrate 17 years of marriage. We got a babysitter for the entire day and finished with supper at a rooftop restaurant. (I do love this city’s skyline.) Marriage has been good to us. I know not everyone can say that, so I do not take this gift lightly. All I can do is give thanks for it.

Vacation Bible School at our international church. Missionaries from around the country, as well as tons of local kids, attend this VBS every year. Every year, my kids learn new songs (with motions!) that teach deep truths about the Christian walk. And every year, I get to catch up with friends I don’t often see or talk to.

Chamomile tea. I drank this while Jonathan was out of town, to help me relax and fall asleep without him. Actually I’m back into teas in general, with Peppermint Tea and Spearmint Tea along for the ride, as well as English Breakfast Tea and Darjeeling Tea. Mostly I prefer Twinings.

 

BOOKS

Poppy and Rye by Avi. Clever little social commentary on privilege, anger, and outrage, and injustice. For read aloud time.

Dandelion by Don Freeman, the author of the more famous Corduroy. “Come as you are.” Why have I never heard this story before??

Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Foreman Lewis. Another read aloud, this one from our history curriculum. Such a good story. We can relate to life in 1920’s China because of living in Cambodia – a fact which I hope will be helpful this entire year as we study Eastern Hemisphere with Sonlight.

The Complete Lord Peter Wimsey Stories by Dorothy Sayers (a contemporary of Lewis and Tolkien). Simply delightful. Sometimes I need a break from fiction that’s socially conscious, or from non-fiction that’s educationally or politically minded. I needed to get lost in a completely separate world, and one with delightful accents. Still working through these short stories.

Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse. This follows right on the heels of Sayers’ stories. I finally finished this Velvet Ashes book club selection from last summer which I for some reason never finished. I thoroughly enjoy reading stories of the British upper classes in the first half of this century. These series are what I call “light reading” — they are not “twaddle.” Although easier to read, they still use language in delightful and surprising ways. I prefer to read them out loud when I can, and in my best British accent. This one is only $0.99 on Kindle.

What Falls From the Sky by Esther Emery. I’d heard really good things about this book but had avoided reading it for a couple reasons – neither of which was because I didn’t want to read it. First of all, at the beginning of this year I made a reading list that included all the print books I had laying around and all the Kindle books I had accumulated over the years but not read. I wanted to read books I’d already purchased before buying any new non-school books. (So basically I made it 6 months.) The second reason was because the easiest way to get this book was through Kindle, but since the book centered on disconnecting from electronic devices and communication, that choice seemed somehow “off” to me. I’d already been experimenting with disconnection from technology and wasn’t sure I needed a guide or story about it. But then Sarah Bessey linked to a $1.99 sale of this book, and I went for it. I am so glad.

Esther, like all good storytellers, somehow manages to tell her own very personal story while also telling the story of the rest of us. It takes my breath away, really. Then again, she is a former theatre director; storytelling is in her blood. Like all stories worth leaning into, this is a tale of brokenness and loss, healing and hope, and running from home and returning there. And the prose. Oh, the prose. There are large swaths of narrative that I just have to underline because the story is so compelling. Not just a pithy line here or there, but entire chunks of text. Note: it might still be on Kindle sale.

 

BLOG POSTS ON THE SPIRITUAL LIFE

On the Silence of God: When He Doesn’t Show Up Like You Need Him To by Rebecca Reynolds. Debunks two promises often offered to young people in American Christianity. Incredibly important.

Patrick Mead on lament.

Roll Away the Stone of Approval Seeking by Kay Bruner. Truth! Approval seeking is a way to control others’ opinion of me and their behavior toward me. And I have often been guilty of it.

Living the Dream by Anisha Hopkinson. All those things you’re wishin’ and hopin’ and plannin’ and dreamin’ for? They won’t fulfill, not really.

Pigeon Loaf, God, and Me by Renee Aupperlee. This post spoke to places deep inside me. If you want read more of my reaction, see my comment at the bottom of the post, which is especially relevant post for fellow lovers of C.S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces.

Paul’s Uncomfortable Jaunt into Christian Mysticism by Rebecca Reynolds. I have always loved this passage from I Corinthians 1, and this post dives into important issues surrounding rationalism and empiricism. I’m especially interested in this topic as I want my faith (and my children’s faiths) to be both intellectually sound and experientially true. But this is untenable for a faith system. Instead we are left with the spiritual aspect to faith that is proved neither by evidence nor intelligence but is, I believe, supported by both.

 

BLOG POSTS FOR THE GLOBALLY MINDED

God Bless America! (and other dangerous prayers) by Jonathan Trotter.

Both and Neither: Exploring My Third Culture Kid Identity by Chris Aslan.

Celebrating Anne with an E: Orphans in Popular Culture, a 3-part series by Stacie Ellinger. Stacie is a friend who works with local NGO Children in Families. She examines our beliefs about orphans through beloved fictional characters and then offers actual research and data. Parts 2 and 3 are here: Resilience and Reintegration and Family-Based Care in Fiction. Long but thoughtful, especially for those interested in exploring a broader approach to caring for children at risk.

 

BLOG POSTS ABOUT SCIENCE

Why Roman concrete still stands strong while modern version decays. Nifty, huh? Found through Brandy Vencel of Afterthoughts blog. With video.

Researchers Crack the Secret of the Moving Rocks of Death Valley on Interesting Engineering. Also fascinating. Also with video.

Pluto might be a planet again. Let’s talk about why this matters. by Sara Chodosh at Popular Science. I don’t have a nostalgic reason to want Pluto to be considered a planet; I’m perfectly fine with its relegation into dwarf planet or Kuiper Belt Object. I do recoil bit, however, at the implications of this new definition, which would make all moons orbiting planets into planets in their own right. We could have hundreds of planets in our solar system alone; this could get confusing.

All about magnetotactic bacteria, at Does God Exist? Design is evident in even the smallest of living things.

 

HOME SCHOOL AND PARENTING STUFF

Don’t Hate on TV, a 5-minute video by Julie Bogart of Brave Writer.

Working Memory and Copywork, an hour-long interview with Rita Cevasco, speech pathologist and reading/writing specialist. Rita goes into the neurology behind why copywork matters, and I’ve revamped by copywork strategies because of this new information. By the way, working memory difficulties sometimes masquerade as attention deficits; but they’re not the same. Don’t forget to grab the free download.

Take Pain Seriously by Julie Bogart. I’ll be honest. I struggle finding balance with this. On the one hand I know pushing through tears and frustration can teach your child to dislike studying and learning and that we should pay attention to the cues they are sending us. And the younger the child, the more likely I am to pay attention because — on the other hand, I also know that in life we don’t just get to quit when we push up against something hard, and helping our children push through it can build their resiliency, which is especially important in children whose resiliency may be lower.

 

MOVIES AND PODCASTS

Ever After. So old but so good. I watch it with my girls when my husband goes out of town. It’s tradition! The accents are wrong, but everything else is so right.

Teach Us to Want Bible study series by Jen Pollock Michele on Right Now Media. All about desire and unmet desire and disappointment. Every time Jen talks I am in tears. How can a person so consistently speak to the deep places inside me, the places I’m mostly fearful to go??

Ella Enchanted. I had another slumber party with my girls while Papa was away. I remember seeing this movie when it first came out, but didn’t remember it at all, and I didn’t remember thinking I liked it. But maybe Lewis is right: “Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” Maybe I just had to grow up enough to return to the fairy tales. My daughters, on the other hand, have yet to outgrow them.

 

MUSIC

Hey, Annaliese by Hetty White. I responded viscerally to this song and initially, without words. But isn’t that the point of art, to communicate for us? Since then I’ve been able to put words to my feelings in some email correspondence. For now I’ll just leave you with the song, and the blog post that gives more insight to its genesis.

Bonus Song: When I shared this song with a friend, she in turn shared this song. To be honest it was almost too emotive for me. All the lost things we can’t get back. . . .sometimes it’s too much to consider. And the artistry in this video, oh, breathtaking.

The rest of the songs come from the church service we visited. All of these songs I have revisited and revisited this month. So rich and deep and meaningful.

Awake, Awake O Zion by Phatfish. Joyful, hopeful, and somehow solemn all at the same time.

Awake, awake O Zion
And clothe yourself with strength
Shake off your dust
And fix your eyes on Him
For you have been redeemed by
The precious blood of Jesus
And now you sit enthroned with Him

Our God reigns
He is King of all the earth
Our God reigns
And He’s seated on the throne
Lift your voice
And sing a song of praise
Our God reigns

The watchmen lift their voices
And raise a shout of joy
For He will come again
Then all eyes will see the
Salvation of our God
For He has redeemed Jerusalem

Come People of the Risen King by Keith and Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend (authors of “In Christ Alone,” “O Church Arise,” and other modern hymns). I’m glad to have discovered more of the Gettys. Too good not to include all the lyrics here.

Come, people of the Risen King,
Who delight to bring Him praise;
Come all and tune your hearts to sing
To the Morning Star of grace.
From the shifting shadows of the earth
We will lift our eyes to Him,
Where steady arms of mercy reach
To gather children in.

Rejoice, Rejoice! Let every tongue rejoice!
One heart, one voice; O Church of Christ, rejoice!

Come, those whose joy is morning sun,
And those weeping through the night;
Come, those who tell of battles won,
And those struggling in the fight.
For His perfect love will never change,
And His mercies never cease,
But follow us through all our days
With the certain hope of peace.

Come, young and old from every land –
Men and women of the faith;
Come, those with full or empty hands –
Find the riches of His grace.
Over all the world, His people sing –
Shore to shore we hear them call
The Truth that cries through every age:
“Our God is all in all!”

The Power of the Cross (Oh to see the dawn) also by Getty and Townend. Many thanks to Pastor Peter for choosing these songs that Sunday.

Oh, to see the dawn
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.

This, the power of the cross:
Christ became sin for us,
Took the blame, bore the wrath:
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Oh, to see the pain
Written on Your face
Bearing the awesome weight of sin;
Every bitter thought,
Every evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.

Now the daylight flees,
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
Dead are raised to life;
‘Finished!’ the victory cry.

Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death,
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

This, the power of the cross:
Son of God, slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Christ is Risen by Matt Maher. Not new to me but always good to sing again.

Let no one caught in sin remain
Inside the lie of inward shame
We fix our eyes upon the cross
And run to him who showed great love
And bled for us
Freely you bled, for us

Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death
Come awake, come awake!
Come and rise up from the grave!

Christ is risen from the dead
We are one with him again
Come awake, come awake!
Come and rise up from the grave!

Beneath the weight of all our sin
You bow to none but heavens will
No scheme of hell, no scoffer’s crown
No burden great can hold you down
In strength you reign
Forever let your church proclaim

Oh death! Where is your sting?
Oh hell! Where is your victory?
Oh Church! Come stand in the light!
The glory of God has defeated the night!

Oh death! Where is your sting?
Oh hell! Where is your victory?
Oh Church! Come stand in the light!
Our God is not dead, he’s alive! he’s alive!

Trust the Water to Hold You {Velvet Ashes}

Elizabeth is over at Velvet Ashes today . . .

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I love floating on my back. I love the weightlessness I feel when I’m on the water. I love the way my sense of hearing becomes momentarily muted. I love the way I’m free to focus on breathing. In and out, in and out, in and out.

I close my eyes and don sunglasses to block out even more of the light. I can easily slide into sensory overload in this city, and floating on my back cues my system to stop thinking so stinkin’ hard and so ridiculously much and just exist.

It’s my opportunity to tune out the auditory and visual clutter. Even the mental clutter starts to dissipate as I focus solely on my breath. My muscles relax, and sometimes even my headaches and neckaches begin to lessen. Being on the water like this is about as close to bliss as I get.

Finish reading here.

17 years of marriage, and this is all we’ve got

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Welp. That was a fast 17 years!

In the last several years, both of us have written various pieces on marriage, relationships, and sex, and we wanted to take the opportunity here, at the inauspicious 17-year point, to share them with you. Our hope and prayer is that you would find marriage to be the great signpost to Christ that it really is. (We hope you find it really fun, too.)

all for ONE,
Jonathan & Elizabeth

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Our Journey to Finding Joy in Marriage (and the things we lost along the way)

The Purpose of Marriage is NOT to Make You Holy 

What I want to teach my daughters about married sex

When Ministry and Marriage Collide

A Marriage Blessing

Love Interruptus

3 Ways to Care for Heart of Your Wife

Intensity and Intentionality (a note about motherhood and marriage on the field)

Open letter to trailing spouses (and the people they’re married to)

Paul, the Misogynist?

Weaker But Equal: How I Finally Made Peace With Peter

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Top photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash. Used with permission.

What Jesus Knew About Death and how that Helped Him Live

Recorded at ICF in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 2017.

To listen to the message, Click Here or visit the trotters41 podcast on iTunes.

Some excerpts:

  • How we think about death massively impacts how we live our life.
  • Part of learning how to live like Christ is thinking about death like Christ.
  • A funeral doesn’t stay a funeral for very long when Jesus shows up.
  • From the beginning, Satan has always lied about death. He still does.

When the Resurrection and the Life shows up at a funeral, death dies and corpses rise.

“God Bless America!” (and other dangerous prayers)

by Jonathan

I love America.

I love her mountains and her National Parks. I love her North Atlantic coastline and her national anthem. I love her freedom of speech and her universities.

As an attorney, I especially love her Constitution and her history of Law.

God bless America!

But that’s a dangerous prayer, because often, with the same tongue that we mouth “God bless America!” we spit “God destroy Iran!” Or North Korea. Or China. Or whatever.

We want to bless America and curse our enemies. And while that kind of talk is certainly in the Bible, it’s not very Biblical. It is not the way of Jesus.

Continue reading over at A Life Overseas

A Few of My Favorite Things {June 2017}

By Elizabeth

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The highlight of our month was definitely a trip to the Gulf of Thailand for an organizational conference. It had been years since I’d been to the sea, and I was desperate for some beach time. Beach time was somewhat limited due to the full conference schedule, but each morning after breakfast we were able to walk along the beach (which serendipitously coincided with low tide). Besides the nature fix, we enjoyed rich conversations with both teammates and other global workers, soul-filling worship with a well-known worship band, and an exceptional children’s program.

My friend’s Bran Muffins. At the beginning of the month we spent time with some friends who have now left on furlough. She served us her family’s old Bran Muffin recipe. They were filling and not too sweet, so I asked her for the secret recipe. Now I’m into muffin baking again, something I haven’t done for years.

An extended coffee date with another dear friend. We caught up in all things Life and dipped into some purposeful Life-with-Christ conversations, too.

I’ve also had a few really nice dates with my husband. And truly, that makes life so much more enjoyable, in spite of all the power outages we’ve been getting and in spite of all the things that keep breaking down and needing to be fixed.

BOOKS

Seeker by Helena Sorensen. I read the other two books in Helena’s series last summer but hadn’t gotten to this one yet. I knew it was supposed to be the saddest of the three and had sort of avoided it (doesn’t that just sound like pain-averse me?). Now that I’ve read it, though, I can say that this one was as beautifully written as the other two, if not more so. Certain sections just felt “truer.” The story is layered: as I read, I couldn’t help thinking that she was talking about more than just the story, she was talking about me. In some ways she reminds me of Madeleine L’Engle, with characters wiser and more self-aware than any of us mortals can generally hope to be, and whose theology works its way out through her (decidedly true) fiction.

The first and the third books in the series gave me courage and hope. This second book gave solace and kindredness. When I reached the end of Seeker, I was sobered and sad, yet glad for the chance to have read it. It’s one of those books that offers symbols for real-life situations. Do read it.

I haven’t made much other progress in the book department. The first week of summer break we basically just played with friends. The next week, we went to Conference, and anyone who’s ever been to Conference knows that it’s quite an energy investment. Which means that the week after conference I was still pretty wiped out.

In preparation for our upcoming school year, however, I was able to read some home school books — For the Children’s Sake most notable among them. Jonathan laughed when he saw me reading it, because growing up he saw that book around the house constantly. About the book: not only are the educational ideas lovely, but the language used to describe them is, too.

BLOG POSTS

A Walk Through the Tabernacle by Brian Phillips. This is a must-read article. I was already enamored of the Gospel of John, but this new information makes it even more breathtakingly powerful.

How Meditation Saved Me From Missions by Ann Hall. Ann is a personal friend of mine who recently started blogging, and when she talked about meditation on her own blog, I knew we needed her story at A Life Overseas. In this New Age-y world, Ann defines what biblical meditation is and is not while also offering a practical guide.

The Earth Between My Fingers by Glenn McCarty. This blog post reminded me of my friend Heidi Whitaker, the wife of a local Anglican priest, who explained sacrament to non-liturgical me. Our conversation a couple years ago was the beginning of a deeper journey to embrace the intersection of physicality and spirituality, something that fundamentalist-me had been running from for years. She told me:

“The Anglican Book of Common Prayer uses this definition: a sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given to us. There’s also the pithy phrase “Matter matters.” It relates to the way God comes to us through matter (water, the bread and wine, etc) and to his value of matter (our physical bodies themselves and all of creation are precious to him – not evil or something to be escaped as in Gnosticism).”

Finding God in Fairytales by Tanya Marlow. Beautiful and experientially true (see: Shiloh and Till We Have Faces).

Existential Angst and the Creative Mind by Greg Wilbur. Thought-provoking post on Christian creativity and what it can be. I love the four points at the end. I hope my “art” can live up to these ideals.

No Moms, You Don’t Have to Wear a Bathing Suit. Just Be a Really Good You. By Rebecca Reynolds (author of this hilarious spring favorite). Everyone needs to be following Rebecca Reynolds on Facebook. The wisdom just pours out of her. Not all her posts are set to public, but here’s one example. Rebecca also wrote this piece, which I read several years ago, before I really knew who she was (but it apparently stuck with me). I love how she’s not afraid to go long-form, whether she’s on FB or in a blog. Rebecca is currently writing a book. I’m interested to see what it holds.

How Communal Singing Disappeared From American Life (and why we should bring it back) by Karen Loew (and found through Story Warren). Singing together was important to me growing up. And I miss it, which is one reason our family has recently begun singing together more often. As I heard Misty Edwards say once: “Singing is a spiritual experience that’s also physical, with physical sound waves leaving your voice box and traveling through the air to hit your and other people’s physical ear drums.” I personally think that’s why singing together is so bonding (there’s more to say on the subject of singing and sacrament, but for the time being I will refrain).

Member of the Family by Zach Franzen (for Story Warren). Beautiful little reflection on an Eleanor Estes story we read just last month. And don’t skip the poem at the end!

He Calls You: Beloved by Renee Aupperlee. Truth that is crucial to the Christian life — and, as one commenter noted, not cheesily delivered in the least.

Surprise! We Need to Learn from Christians from Other Cultures by Amy Medina. More important than I can say.

Your Short Term Trips Have Not Prepared You for Long Term Missions also by Amy Medina. Sobering and true. I am so glad Amy wrote this.

 

PODCASTS, VIDEOS, AND TELEVISION

Interview with Nell Goddard, author of Musings of a Clergy Child (and found through Tanya Marlow). I loved this interview so much. Nell is a “clergy child” — or as we Americans might say, a preacher’s kid. I have such an interest in this subject because all four of my children have been PKs since birth. Watch the book trailer here.

Christine Hoover interviews Jen Wilkin about the mistakes we make in friendship.  I love Christine and her book on grace. And I love the little I know of Jen Wilkin (see: her perspective on self-worth and her conversation on women in ministry with Russell Moore). A good listen, and some wise words.

Anne with an E. Not a favorite per se, but I figured this is as good a place as any to talk about the new Anne show, which I used my summer break to watch. (Hmm, maybe that’s where all my reading time went?) I read about the series before I began, so I knew what I was getting in to. I’m with other friends of mine who liked it, but didn’t love it. The story was darker and deviated from the source material. Now, to a certain extent I don’t mind darker (and this darkness wasn’t too terribly dark), and neither do I mind deviation from the source material. It’s just that the additional story matter seemed out of place to me, historically speaking. Don’t get me wrong; the story still resonated, but it was no longer whimsical. It was mostly enjoyable for me as an adult, but it certainly isn’t for children.

I can comment favorably on the characters, however: I loved this new Marilla. She had more depth of emotion and internal struggle (sorry Colleen Dewhurst, I loved your Marilla too, she’s just a different one!). Rachel Lynde is much more nuanced and sympathetic in this one, and I liked her better (in much the same way that Keira Knightley’s Mrs. Bennet is more realistic and bearable than Colin Firth’s Mrs. Bennet). Megan Follows is of course the very best Anne ever, hands down. But this new Gilbert, now, he’s exceptional. He seems more appropriately cast, age-wise, and he has more depth to his character too. Instead of just a boy in love with Anne, he has a life outside of Anne (but Jonathan Crombie, you are every girl’s dream-come-true: a man desperately in love with just one girl, and a finicky one at that). As for Matthew, well, I haven’t decided which Matthew I like better. I think I like both equally. Both are portrayed well, though differently. Ok, now that I’ve blabbed on and on, please give your Anne thoughts in the comments!

 

MUSIC

Did I mention the worship at Conference was fantastic? I did? Oh, let me tell you again: the worship at Conference was fantastic. Here are two brand-new-to-me songs that I learned there (although as usual I preferred the live versions to the Youtube versions). Both these songs were on repeat at my house all month.

The Lion and the Lamb by Leeland Mooring, Brenton Brown, and Brian Johnson.

Our God is the Lion, the Lion of Judah
He’s roaring with power and fighting our battles
And every knee will bow before Him

Our God is the Lamb, the Lamb that was slain
For the sin of the world, His blood breaks the chains
And every knee will bow before the Lion and the Lamb
Oh every knee will bow before the Lion and the Lamb

O Praise the Name (Anastasis)  by Dean Ussher, Marty Sampson, and Benjamin Hastings (Hillsong). A gospel story-song more powerful than I can say.

I cast my mind to Calvary
Where Jesus bled and died for me.
I see His wounds,His hands, His feet.
My Saviour on that cursed tree
His body bound and drenched in tears
They laid Him down in Joseph’s tomb.
The entrance sealed by heavy stone
Messiah still and all alone
Then on the third at break of dawn, 
The Son of heaven rose again.
O trampled death where is your sting?
The angels roar for Christ the King
O praise the name of the Lord our God
O praise His name forever more
For endless days we will sing Your praise
Oh Lord, oh Lord our God
He shall return in robes of white, 
The blazing Son shall pierce the night. 
And I will rise among the saints,
My gaze transfixed on Jesus’ face
O praise the name of the Lord our God
O praise His name forever more
For endless days we will sing Your praise
Oh Lord, oh Lord our God