what i’m into :: january 2015

I’m not really sure how another month has gone by, how writing “2015” on checks to the babysitter has become an afterthought.  But, such is life.  So, as per the usual, I’m linking up with Lovely Leigh for her monthly “What I’m Into” series – to provide a recap and a look into books and the other microscopic normalcies that make up our days.  Join in the conversation, will you?

This is my favorite memory of the month:

I flew to the western side of Virginia to marry dear friends "Jeffnie."
I flew to the western Virginia, honored to marry my dear friends “Jeffnie.”

What flight would be complete without a traveling companion?  Baby Brother came along for the ride (and the food).

My hot date (who showed off his lungs SO well on the airplane as well).
My hot date (who showed off his lungs SO well on the tin can of an airplane).

Otherwise, I’ve read some books (including December’s books as well)…

The Secret Place (French, 5/5) – One of my 2015 reading goals is to read more mysteries, and this selection for the Sassy Ladies Book Club was just perfect!

The Grand Paradox (Wytsma, 4/5) – I read Ken’s book as part of his launch campaign, and his writing – and the overall question of paradox within one’s faith – is solid.

Disunity in Christ (Cleveland, 5/5) – Seriously, if you profess Christianity, YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Shaffer, 5/5) – One of the first letter-themed novels I’ve ever enjoyed.  Absolutely delightful, with strong characters.

My Ántonia (Cather, 5/5) – Perhaps one of my favorite representations of setting  captured in a novel …and a classic, at that!

All the Light We Cannot See (Doerr, 4/5) – World War II + a creative mix of 50,000 Leagues Under the Sea = a more than intriguing story.

Yes Please (Poehler, 4/5) – Amy, can you, me and Tina be besties, please?  I’ll buy the three-way necklaces.

The Fringe Hours (Turner, 3/5) – Also read as part of a launch campaign, Jessica’s book includes practical, life-giving advice for every woman out there.

Truth & Beauty (Patchett, 4/5) – I feel a new favorite memoir writer coming into my life.

Fierce Convictions (Swallow Prior, 3/5) – A beautifully written biography about a very powerful woman, although a little too dry for my taste.

The Snow Queen (Andersen, 5/5) – Does the fact that Frozen was partially based off this tale hold any weight for you?

Frances and Bernard (Bauer, 3/5) – Meh.  This is one of those letter-novellas that didn’t really work for me.

Outlander (Gabaldon, 5/5) – Yes, yes, yes.  The romance novel I didn’t know was a romance novel.  Surprise!

Committed (Gilbert, 4/5) – I love Elizabeth Gilbert’s easy-going style, and but for the politics that overwhelmed the greater story at times.

I’m currently reading…

Food: A Love Story; Lessons in Belonging from a Church-Going Commitment Phobe; Brideshead Revisited; Babyproofing Your Marriage; Light Upon Light.  

Also, SUPER exciting, people, but we potty-trained our oldest.  See also: the sweater tucked into his big boy underwear.
Also, SUPER exciting, people: we potty-trained our oldest this past month. See also: he began dressing himself and loves to tuck his sweater into his big boy underwear.

I’m staring at the boob tube…

And watching season three of Call the Midwife on Netflix, because – announcement, announcement! – I finally finished all seven seasons of The Gilmore Girls.  Let us now pause for a moment to remember that witty pair of Loreleis …and to hope that Baby Brother’s caloric intake of solid foods helps him sleep through the night so I can calm down on the episode intake.

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 11.27.11 AM
I know, edible.

 

And I’m writing…

I’m querying agents.  I’m diving into the work, even if I don’t feel like it, even if it doesn’t feel like I’m very good at it sometimes.  And I’m letting this little one-minute clip featuring the words of Ira Glass speak to my insides, over and over again:

If you’re a creative type, pretty please take a minute and watch the above clip.  You can thank me later.  But in the meantime, just keep doing the work.  It matters.  You matter.  Your words matter.  Keep up the hard.

That’s about it!  What about you?  What have you been reading and watching and doing the past month?  Let’s dialogue – join the conversation and leave a note below.  

FYI: Amazon Affiliate links included!

rituals: to infinity …and beyond (ginger lobdell)

Oh man, it’s only week two of RITUALS, and I’m already a weepy mess.  Once again, we’re looking at those ordinary, not-so-boring rituals of our everyday lives that make the story deeper.  And for my friend Ginger the words she’s whispered to each of her boys at the end of the day, every day of their young lives, CERTAINLY makes the story deeper.  Enjoy, oh, enjoy.  
Ginger open

My shoulders fell as I stared at the dirty pots and pans in front of me.

The rumble of brotherly wrestling from my older sons traveled down the hall. That wasn’t the sound of boys getting ready for bed. They didn’t seem the least bit tired, but I was exhausted.

Sigh. Maybe I should just tell them goodnight so I can cross this day off the calendar. They’ll understand.

My husband was deployed somewhere in the Middle East with the military, and I had spent a long day worrying about my Beloved while holding down the fort here at home. I couldn’t wait until I could crawl under my own covers and finally let this day fade away.

“Mommy, may you please snuggle with me?”

My youngest just looked so cute standing there in his dinosaur jammies, big brown eyes looking up at me. I love how he still mixes up his words sometimes, and I couldn’t say no.

Sure, Honey. Go brush your teeth and I’ll be right there…

The dishes would just have to wait.

I separated the big boys, sent them to finish getting ready for bed, and promised each one that, “Yes, I’ll come snuggle with you, too.” 

I collapsed into our littlest’s bed, and he snuggled close as I put my arm around him.

We chatted about the things important to him that night: how “pokeypines” have quills, how spiders have eight eyes, and how a brother ate the last cookie. Then we prayed together, and I kissed his squishy cheek goodnight.

Quinn, do you know what?

“You love me.”

How did you know that’s what I was going to say?

He smiled and pulled the covers up to his dimpled chin. “Just because! I know you love me. Goodnight, Mommy.”

I’m so glad, Honey. I DO love you! Then I added the thing I’d said to them every night since they were born, To infinity… and beyond! 

I walked across the hall to my middle son’s room. His freckled face beamed up at me from over a Wimpy Kid book.

“Mom, you’ve gotta read this part!”

We sat and laughed together as we followed the latest shenanigans of Greg and Rowley. He prayed his sweet little prayer, and then I gave the top of his crazy hair a smooch. “Blech!” he giggled as he wiped away my kiss.

I love you so much, Aiden. To infinity… and beyond! Our familiar bedtime phrase made him grin.

“I love you, too, Mom!”

 My oldest son was humming along to the song playing in his headphones. I tousled his thick black hair aside and kissed his forehead.

Goodnight, Camden. Sleep well, Dude. I love you.

And I turned back toward the door. I left off our last phrase, guessing that he was getting too old for Toy Story humor. I usually tried to not embarrass him too much.

“Mom, can I talk to you about something?”

I recognized the hurt in his voice, and I realized that my little guy who wasn’t so little anymore needed me. Everything else faded away as I sat down beside him and he let me into his world. I listened as his thoughts, his fears, and his questions all came trickling out as he shared what was on his young heart.

I looked down at our feet as we talked, amazed to find that they were the same size. I wondered how I could have blinked and missed that he was not a little boy anymore. He had grown into a young man, but he would always be my baby.

I gathered him into my arms when a tear escaped down his cheek, and I held him. I don’t know how long we sat there, but after a while he looked up and gave me a hint of a smile. There’s my boy. He’s going to be okay.

I ruffled his hair once more, and hugged him close before turning out the light.

Goodnight, Buddy. 

“Goodnight. Hey, Mom? I love you. To infinity… and beyond.”

Ginger bioGinger is wife to her Beloved, mommy to three boys, bookworm, survivor of a broken heart, and Kansas girl! Her Yellow Brick Road has led her through deep valleys of loneliness, betrayal, incredible heart ache, divorce, illness, and searching. She has also encountered the glorious paths of motherhood, friendship, rapture, butterflies – oh the butterflies, promise, hope, healing, new beginnings, and a love that she had never known possible. She would love to share with you how it came to exist in her very own not-so fairy tale at justoneoftheboys.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!

friendship, unrequited.

Flickr Creative Commons: Rebecca.
Flickr Creative Commons: Rebecca.

What’s my badge of honor?

My ability to make, keep and be a good friend to many.

Pinned to the front pocket of my coat, I used to marvel at a seemingly natural ability to consistently maintain friendships despite distance or life stage, lack of common interest or even feelings of obligation.

Given the choice, if I had to choose between having three worthy, true and real friends, and fifty nice, fluffy and occasionally authentic friends, I’d choose the latter. Despite glaring evidence that I wasn’t necessarily able to have and do it all when it came to Being a Good Friend, I boasted needlessly in my capacity to love others well.

Because I knew what it meant to be a good friend: call them, text them, email them.

Pursue the living socks off them.

Be all things to all friends.

Ask a million questions.

Think of them and remember them and love them well …because this, this is what really matters.

And really, it wasn’t always a bad thing, it was just what I did and who I was. Because if I chose you – if I made the conscious decision to invest in your life, to cheer you on and make you feel like a million bucks – then you were one lucky cat.

Friend Whore that I was, I gained another contact for my phone list.

Certainly, there were seasons. In middle school and high school I leapt into the social pool of relationships, shameless in my ability to call myself Friend to every student in my graduating class: the preps, the drama kids, the nerds and the jocks. The druggies, the band geeks, the choir nerds and the no-names, I fit in everywhere and nowhere, all at the same time.

For each group I had a reason and an in, and excuse and a chameleon-like ability to adapt to any people-filled situation.

I calmed down in college, and further accepted that not every friendship was meant for life upon entering the work force. But at my core, I continued to believe one thing: friendships were at my disposal, at my discretion.

I alone held the key to their existence.

That is, until I didn’t.

Sometimes we put our hearts out there, pinning another with friendship’s badge of honor. We select them as a part of Soul’s Society. We invite them into our circle and we call them our own. We name them Our People, we deem them family. We believe ourselves so deeply knit with this person, this Other, that we remain blind to friendship’s need for reciprocity.

We love but are not loved in return, at least not as we want or expect or deserve. Our desires toward friendship are not reciprocated or returned in kind.

It’s friendship, unrequited.

And it can feel like the worst kind of devotion.

We shoot them an email or we call them on the phone. We text them again, again, but a month goes by, or two, or four. We invent excuses for them, for us, but then the confusion turns to frustration, and frustration leads to anger, and all of these excuses, and all of this confusion and frustration and anger remain a cover-up for our hurt.

We’re hurt because we chose them, but they didn’t choose us in return.

We’re hurt because all our old tricks didn’t work on this new dog.

We’re hurt because we’d categorized them as a Lifer, but it wasn’t the same for them. We weren’t their Lifer, their Other, their chosen friend.

We were just another contact in their phone list, one of the fifty.

So I return to the “I” of this post, writing in the personal, remembering that vulnerability is healthy and real and good. As you may know, I’m learning to be – I’m always learning to be – and with friendships that means that I’m learning how to let friendships happen instead of making friendships happen. Just as I’m learning how to be pursued, I’m shedding unhealthy habits and I’m embracing those few who are already in process, present tense embracing me.

Perhaps it’s because I’m realizing that friendships are organic in nature.

They have the ability to grow and flourish and morph into something greater than we ever expected, but they’re not for me alone to dictate.   I don’t always need or get to play my cards.

Instead, I lean into one of the wisest, truest lines ever written in a children’s book: [we are] “…making time for people that like you, that like to like you.”

So that’s what I’m doing: I’m making time for the people who like me, who like to like me.

Maybe you can do the same.

Friendship, unrequited: is there such a thing?  Leave a comment about FRIENDSHIP below, and also check out and join in the conversation at The Other Cara’s synchroblog today!   

the 2015 reading challenge (MMD).

As I sit here packing for a cross country trip in the morning with little Frodo, I can’t help but realize that I’m most excited to decide which books I’ll read in flight.

Giddy giddy giddy giddy.

Book nerd, I know.

Subsequently, I’ve also decided that it’s best to prolong packing as long as humanly possible by finishing a blog I started a few weeks ago on my 2015 reading goals.  This follows the directive from one of the best book-bloggers out there, Modern Mrs. Darcy, who published a 2015 reading challenge.  Friends, her twelve reading ideas are simple and glorious.

So, what’dya say we hunker down and get our read on?

2015-Reading-Challenge

A book you’ve been meaning to read: God’s Forever Family (Larry Eskridge) – my grandfather helped found Jews for Jesus, and was key in San Francisco’s Jesus People Movement in the 70’s …and this is the story.

A book published this year: Lessons in Belonging (Erin Lane) – Erin and I were roommates at a writing festival earlier this year, and I can’t wait to cheer on her book which comes out next month.

A book in a genre you don’t typically read: {poetry} Sailing Alone Around the Room (Billy Collins) – you may recall a post from about a year ago, “You know, those kind of people,” in which I esteemed our friends who also happened to introduce us to this poet.

A book from your childhood: Jacob I Have Loved (Katharine Paterson) – this was one of my favorite books in middle school, and I’d love to pick it up again!

A book your mom loves: The Black Rose (Thomas B. Costain) – I even own a copy.  There is no excuse.  Sorry Mom.

A book that was originally written in a different language: The Shadow of the Wind (Carlos Ruiz Zafon) – this too has been sitting on my shelf for far too long. Do I fear committing to potentially life-changing books?

A book “everyone” has read but you: The Silver Star (Jeannette Walls) – well, I don’t know if everyone has read this, but everyone except me who loves Jeannette Walls has read this novel.

A book you chose because of the cover: The Corrections (Jonathan Franza) – you eat, I eat, we all eat the 50’s family feast!

thecorrections

A book by a favorite author: Small Victories (Anne Lamott) – and I have not started reading Saint Anne’s book because?

A book recommended by someone with great taste: The White Tiger (Aravind Adiga) – plus I have a thing for Indian literature.  Done.

A book you should have read in high school: A Tale of Two Cities (Dickins) – do I even admit what I’m about to profess?  I do.  I EVEN TAUGHT THIS BOOK …without ever having read it.  Shame on me, shame on me.  (And yes, it is possible to fill up a week’s worth of summer reading conversations with So what did YOU think about the book, Joe Student?  Tell me more!)

A book that’s currently on the bestseller list: Yes Please (Amy Poehler).  Okay, I’m totally cheating since I already read this earlier this month, but since Modern Mrs. Darcy’s instructions were to read one of these books a month, I win!

And the best part?  I have all but ONE of these sitting on my shelves, waiting to be read.  Winner, winner chicken dinner.

Happy reading!

So, what about you?  Want to join me in reading any of the above books?  What books would fill YOUR twelve categories?

*FYI, Amazon Affiliate links in the above post!

a friday quote (3).

Why is it that Friday rolls around, and JUST LIKE THAT,  I want to get my Rebecca Black on because we gotta get down on Friday.  (Repeating this one line of her lyrics is never going to get old, now is it?)

But I digress, as per the usual.

It’s Friday, which means that a quote is in store for you.  This one comes from one of my favorite friends in these here internet portals, Tim Fall.  Tim is an encourager and a thinker, a deeply devoted and wit-filled story teller whose words always seem to strike a sage note within me.  So it’s no surprise that the quote he leaves has me mulling and thinking and chewing over the most simple and profound of statements.

From G.K. Chesterton’s Heretics: 

Flickr Creative Commons: Geraint Rowland
Flickr Creative Commons: Geraint Rowland

Happy Friday!

So, what does Tim’s quote – well, GK’s quote, if we’re going to be technical about it – mean to you?  Is TRUTH stranger than fiction?  And if you have a quote you’d like featured on a Friday, leave it below!

rituals: story-memories (hannah vanderpool).

Friends, we have a full year lined up for you, and TODAY is the first official-official day of guest post writing (since my words last week only half-counted).  Because this year we’re looking at RITUALS, those boring rituals that make the story deeper.  Hannah is an internet friend whose wisdom I’ve grown to covet and love – and her morning’s picture of normalcy, with books and coffee and children beside, is going to stay with you.  So, enjoy.  

12980772435_483e2d7bc8_o
Flickr Creative Commons: Brittney Lynne.

It’s 9:00 a.m. I’ve been up for a while, first with a giant mug of black coffee and my Bible, then with the laptop open, saving thoughts for tomorrow. The kids woke up an hour ago. They’ve made themselves breakfast and are talking in sleep-thick voices. They learn at home, and they know not to disturb the teacher before she’s ready. But by now I’ve had my second cup of coffee and am ready to do, today, what I did yesterday, and the day before that: call the kids into the living room and open the stack of books beside the gray chair.

Every day it’s the same, whether we have an early morning orthodontic appointment or know a math test is looming. We gather, and I readpoems, mostly, and a chapter of a novel. The kids have long been able to read on their own, and they do (it’s normal to find them sequestered in various bedrooms with their dog-eared copies of Harry Potter and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe). But I read to them anyway because it’s this ritual that makes the day feel right. It’s when we gather like this, when we enter other worlds together, that we feel we’re a part of a grander, more interesting narrative than our daily grind would lead us to believe.

If I’m honest, I have to admit that I don’t always want to break up our day with such slow, luxurious forays into the imaginary, not when I think of all the things we could be doing, things like bed-making and worksheet-filling. Sometimes I wonder if the fact that my oldest son’s voice is wonky, and that he wears deodorant, are signs that this lolling on the couch is overkill, like spoon-feeding a six-year-old. Then, too, I think about how we all read faster when we’re doing it alone.

But I keep going because I can’t shake the belief that Langston Hughes has something to teach us about the miracle of meaning, because Carl Sandburg says things we don’t yet know how to say. I do it because Old Yeller makes us feel something, keeps our hearts a little raw. Because when we turn pages and cry for a boy who kills his dog, it buys us a moment to grieve for everything else that’s wrong in the world. Finally, I keep going because I believe these lessons are meant to be shared, the words, to be heard and not just savored in the privacy of our own minds.  

I know that days like this are melting away fast. Right now, the boys prepare themselves to listen, stretching like young lions on the couches and covering themselves with Afghans. Their feet stick out the ends of the blankets, and I notice that my middle son has a hole in his sock (when did his feet get so big?). All of them are growing faster these days than I can ever remember, except, maybe, when they were babies. We have a little time left, a few more years when we all wake up under the same roof.

And then one morning I’ll read by myself again. I’ll sit in silence in the gray chair with the dogs curled at my feet. I’ll look up from my page once in a while and wish that I had the kids with me so we could argue about an interesting bit in chapter seven or sit in silence after a razor-sharp poem. But then I’ll remember that we already lived a thousand lives together. We went on a hundred journeys, were shipwrecked, imprisoned, and rescued together. We cheered our favorite heroes and mourned inevitable deaths. We’ll have our story-memories. This is what I tell myself.

My hope is that this bookish way of marking the days will have helped to weave our own stories brighter, will have threaded them into something deeper, somehow. There’s always so much to do, and many days I wonder if we’ll ever get it all done. But I’m sticking with our reading ritual for another day. This morning, I’m choosing to believe that, whatever else happens in our lives, there’s time enough for stories.

Photo on 4-18-14 at 12.08 PM #2Hannah Vanderpool is a writer, a former ex-pat, and a homeschooler of three interesting middle-schoolers.  You can connect with her on Twitter or at visit her blog.  So, is this something you do in your house too?  Are words and story-memories and cups of coffee part of your morning ritual as well?  Leave a comment and encourage Hannah below!

a friday quote (2).

It’s Friday.  And while some people Gotta get down on Friday, we’re getting down in our own way here on be, mama. be: with a quote.

Today’s words ring particularly true for me because I’m a big fan of beauty.  I yearn and I desire and I beg to find beauty – Beauty – in the most unlikely of places. I want to see it peeking out of the heap of garbage, and I want my eyes to be transfixed and transformed by its tickling surprise.  I want Beauty to catch my breath and cause my throat to hiccup and my eyes to well with gleeful tears.  Because Beauty occupies a narrow band.

From Ian McEwan’s Atonement

Flickr Creative Commons: FIND PERSON.
Flickr Creative Commons: Tristan Martin.

Happy Friday!

So, what do these words mean to you?  Is beauty narrow and ugliness therefore expansive?   Feel free to add your own favorite quote in the comment section below – perhaps it’ll show up one of these Fridays!

*Post includes Amazon Affiliate Link.