Monthly Mentionables {July/Aug 2017} + 10 Things I Learned While Renovating Our New Home

If you want to test your marriage, parenting, and general lust for life, try moving with three children, age four and under. I suppose it wouldn’t have been so challenging if we hadn’t attempted to paint all the kitchen cabinets and the entire interior of the house before moving in …

But my word for this year is “fire,” so I will leave you to apply all the metaphors to this current situation. Just not the cozy, sit-by-the-fire ones, please.

But in the midst of our normal, daily life stressors, I can’t not mention that this was the month of Charlottesville, the solar eclipse and Hurricane Harvey, plus flooding in many other countries around the world. Each event left me stunned and speechless. As a writer, I struggle because I feel the pressure of speaking into the noise even when I know I may not be heard. The weight of responsibility weighs on me. But that’s a topic for another post …

Today, I’ll keep it light and share what I’ve learned this month via books, podcasts, articles and writing.

Because of the busyness of our recent move, the book reading has been minimal. But with the many hours of painting and nursing a baby, I’ve squeezed in podcasts and much blog/article-reading. Please comment here or on social media. As an extrovert, I love knowing I’m not writing into the void and as a mother to small children with little time to reach out, I appreciate feeling like this blog is more of a conversation than an online journal I am publishing for every stranger to read. Don’t be a stranger;-)

So here we go. Here are the books (okay, book), podcasts, articles and very little writing I’ve been into this month, plus ten things I learned this summer while renovating our new home:

Adopted, by Kelley Nikondeha

I have a serious problem. As a writer, I have some amazing opportunities to pre-read books and be a part of book launches. I find I CANNOT SAY NO to these. It’s a problem. But I am so glad I went against my own better judgement and agreed to read this book written by a long-time contributor to SheLoves. Adopted is a slowly-read-and-savor kind of book. It is an underline-every-line kind of book. The author was not only adopted, but also adopted two children from Burundi (and married a man from Burundi), so she speaks out of her experience as she shares about belonging to the family of God. Kelley is an outstanding writer and I loved the way she weaves words and images from Africa throughout the book. If you are looking for an early morning companion to your daily Bible reading and coffee drinking, be sure and pick up this book. It will change the way you view your place at God’s table.

Podcasts

Pass the Mic

Bonus: The Fierce Urgency of Now: Christian Complicity with Racism and the Imperative for Immediate Action. This is fabulous. Please listen if you have a chance this month.

 

Pray-As-You-Go

I’m experimenting with listening to this during the first part of my runs in the mornings. I’ve shared it before, but it includes a spiritual song, then a reading of a short Bible passage and a few questions for reflection. They have British accents, so it makes it feel even more spiritual somehow;-)

 

The Simple Show

Episode 88: No & Yes. I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately as I begin the school year calendar. What will I say no to and make room for the things I want to say yes to? This episode gave me a lot to think about.

 

Slices of Life. This one was new to me this month. I love the depth these women go to as they discuss daily life.

Episode 39: Making Time for Your Kids

Episode 53: The Benefits of Margin in Your Day

 

Sorta Awesome

Episode 110 Sorry/Not Sorry. This is a long one, but if you don’t have time to get together with girl friends yourself and need a good belly-laugh, this is a perfect way to spend your minutes folding laundry, cooking dinner or commuting to work.

 

TED Talks Daily. These are all fabulous. If I were teaching right now, they are talks I would assign as homework so we could discuss them in class. Here are some I listened to this month:

How to Design a Library that Makes Kids Want to Read, by Michael Bierut (I feel like this isn’t the right title for this–listen through all the way to the end!)

Why Our Screens Make Us Less Happy, by Adam Alter

How Cohousing can make us happier (and live longer), by Grace Kim

When Black Women Walk, Things Change, byT. Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison

12 Truths I Learned from Life and Writing, by Anne Lamott

 

Recipes:

Authentic Italian Meatballs at food.com

Garlic Lemon Herb Mediterranean Chicken + Potatoes (one pan) at Café Delites (Be sure to add feta cheese to this one)

Shrimp Boil at Tasting Table. (Use less salt!)

Vanilla Cupcakes from Life, Love and Sugar. The cake part wasn’t anything new, but the frosting was better than any I’ve ever made before! I’m excited to try out some new recipes from here.

Casper, WY. The night before the eclipse. The sun was already showing off.

Interesting Articles from the Web:

Be a Foster Parent or Be the Village, by Katie Finklea at Loving Well, Living Well

The Death of Reading is Threatening the Soul, by Philip Yancey at Washington Post

I Moved My Kids Out of America. It Was the Best Parenting Decision I Ever Made, by Wendy DeChambeau for The Week 

Oldest Kids in Class Do Better, Even Through College, by John Ydstie for NPR

Teach Me How to Age Well, by Leah Abraham at SheLoves Magazine

The ‘Wait Until 8th’ Pledge–Let Kids be Kids a Little Longer, by Linda Sharkey, at Westport Moms Blog

White Supremacy (Overt and Covert), a great visual for understanding race

Why Free Play is Disappearing in Our Culture, for Today’s Mama

10 Truths and Realities of Transracial Adoption, by at Loving Well, Living Well

12 Best Practices for Finding Time, Energy and Inspiration to Write + A Prayer for Writers, by Sarah Bessey

100 Books by Christian Authors of Color, by Deidra Riggs at her blog

 

FOR FUN:

This Shiplap is Killing Me: 8 Things I Hate about HGTV

John Piper’s Best Tweets

 

In Case You Missed it on Scraping Raisins:

Why I’m Not Apologizing for My Kids and Doing Hospitality Anyway

Why We’re Not Doing Preschool this Year and Are Doing a ‘Gap Year’ Instead

#WhiteChurchQuiet and How the White Church Can Get It Right

Why I Write (because don’t we sometimes need to remember?)

 

And Elsewhere on the Interwebs:

Doe, a Deer, a Female Deer (for SheLoves)

Small, Sticky Hands Lead Me to Jesus (for Redbud Post)

Selling Out by Settling Down? (for Mudroom Blog)

And this is for the Emily P. Freeman Crowd–10 Things I Learned this Summer while Renovating Our New Home

  1. Painting Kitchen Cabinets: Don’t use Annie Sloan Chalk paint on your kitchen cabinets unless you want to do three coats of paint, plus three coats of polyurethane PER SIDE–that’s 12 flips, people. I did use it on the kitchen island, though, because I wanted to use the dark wax and loved the turquoise color, called Florence.
  2. Shower Mildew: check this out before re-grouting your shower. Totally works.
  3. DIY Kitchen Island: My dad and I built our kitchen island basically using this site. I love it so far!
  4. IKEA and I are not enemies anymore. I love the drawer organizer, kids’ easel and paper, kids’ plasticware, comforter and plants.
  5. Downsides to the Open Floor Plan: noise and it is impossible to hide the clutter.
  6. Painting Kitchen Counters: haven’t done this yet, but I’m planning on using Giani–let me know if you’ve ever done this and have tips!
  7. Painting All Interior Walls: taping takes so long that I eventually just got really good at cutting-in.
  8. Stock Up on Trader Joe’s Frozen Dinners–the Indian ones and naan are actually really good! People should do meal trains for moves like they do for new moms. A couple friends brought us meals and literally saved my sanity that day!
  9. Keep Little Ones Busy: let them play with paint brushes and rollers outside and “paint” the sidewalk with water.
  10. Popcorn Ceilings: don’t attempt to remove them yourself. It is completely worth the cost to pay someone to do it.

Before and After pics still to come!

What all were you up these past couple months? I’d love to hear!

 

*Linking up with Emily P. Freeman and Leigh Kramer

**Includes Amazon Affiliate links

 

 

 

 

Ten Writing Tips from The 10 Minute Writer’s Workshop Podcast

Recently I’ve been binge-listening to the NPR podcast The 10 Minute Writer’s Workshop. In it, the host, Virginia Prescott, interviews famous writers about their writing process. She begins each podcast with the question, “Which is harder to write—the first sentence or the last?” Many of the writers chuckle and answer, “the middle!”

Here are some of my biggest takeaways from the hours I’ve spent listening to these talented writers over the past couple weeks:

1. The best way to become a better writer is to be a prolific reader.

2. The other way to get better at writing is to write. There are no shortcuts to sitting in your chair and doing the work.

3. The worst thing new writers do is give up.

4. You have to find what works for you when it comes to daily rituals (though most wake up very early in the morning to write).

5. Every writer said the final product is usually far different from the first draft. They spend a lot of time editing and revising their work. It’s okay to write a shitty first draft (as Ann Lamott talks about).

6. Don’t just write what you know (like so many people advise).

7. Sometimes saying something simply is the best way to say it.

8. When they are stuck, they mix up the routine:  go for a walk, change locations or switch from a computer to free-writing in a journal.

9. At least five writers mentioned Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life as a book for writers to read. Other books mentioned more than once were The Writing Life by Annie Dillard and On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. (I’ve read them all and agree!)

10. Many writers expressed that the work takes on a mind of its own and that they are simply a conduit for the words to get themselves onto the page and out into the world.

 

If you are a writer, teacher or student of writing, I would highly recommend this podcast for ideas on finding your writing flow. Each time I listen, I walk away encouraged and more motivated to share my words with the world.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received? Which of these tips most resonates with you at this stage of your writing career?

Check out this podcast to hear quick, fascinating interviews with some of these writers: Salman Rushdie, Alexander McCall Smith, Anita Shreve, Patti Smith, James McBride, Joe Hill, Judy Blume, Jodi Picoult, Colson Whitehead, Krista Tippett and many others!

 

**Contains Amazon affiliate links

If you are a writer, teacher or student of writing, I would highly recommend this podcast for ideas on finding your own writing flow.

Monthly Mentionables {May 2017}

I’m starting to accept that my children (not my friends or even my husband most of the time) are my companions and fellow adventurers. These little people are always, always with me. Fortunately, they don’t seem to mind their mom wildly weaving our minivan through canyons to unknown destinations in the mountains; or exploring the neighborhoods of Denver when two out of three of the kids fall asleep on our way to the zoo.

One of the benefits of having three children is that I am forced to relax. I can’t be Super Mom and that has to be okay. This means my children climb huge rocks while I nurse on a bench. The baby rarely gets to nap in his crib and has already eaten more junk food in two months than my first born had the entire first three years of his life. I frequently rewash laundry that has sat more than 24 hours and never have a clean house. I let my two-year-old daughter pick flowers pretty much anywhere she pleases, my four-year-old son dress himself in mismatched outfits, and allow my husband to haphazardly “style” my daughter’s hair. *Sigh*

But we are living. And I’m learning to breathe to the rhythm of slow and simple.

Here are some books, articles, podcasts and writing pursuits I poured into the chinks of my days this month to hydrate my brain and assure myself i’m still a thinking person. What about you? What have you been into?

Books:

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown

This was a fabulous book, even though I found it very male-centric and focused more on people in the corporate world than in the creative world. That said, it was definitely applicable to anyone with a pulse in their body pushing them to live their best life. It was a quick read and challenged me to say no more often and prioritize how I spend my time (which is always a good thing).

The Contemplative Writer, by Ed Cyzewski

This was also a very quick read, but helped me reorient my writing through utilizing spiritual practices. I look forward to using them when my brain starts working again in about five years.

I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai

I read this with my book club last month and I so wanted to love it. It was definitely a worthy read, but I got bogged down in the first third of the book by the detailed history of the politics of Pakistan. But I’m glad I persisted because it was fascinating to learn more about the culture of Pakistan and certainly puts my privileged life into perspective.

When We Were on Fire, by Addie Zierman

I think I read this book in less than 48 hours. If Amy Peterson’s memoir about her two years overseas was part II of my life story, Addie’s book would have been my part I. I could so relate to her reflection on (and critique of) the Christian evangelical culture she had grown up in. Reading her memoir was like finding a kindred spirit at just the right time.

Podcasts:

10-Minute Writer’s Workshop–I loved ALL of them (I binge-listened this month!)

Chasing JusticeAmena Brown Owen, Justin Dillon, and Sandra Van Opstal (I just started this one and it is quickly becoming an obsession.)

On Being with Krista TippettRichard Rohr–Living in Deep Time, Patrisse Cullors/Robert Ross–The Spiritual Work of Black Lives Matter

Pass the MicThe Great Woke Debate

Pray-As-You-Go Podcast (This is still the podcast I listen to while I get breakfast ready for my kiddos.)

Truth’s TableWhy the Church Matters

 

Articles:

11 Things White People Need to Realize about Race, by Jessica Samakow for Huffington Post (an older article, but still so relevant!)

Being Black, a Woman, and an Evangelical, by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson for Missio Alliance

Having a Yardsale Confessions of a Yard Sale Fanatic, at yardsalequeen.com (We had a garage sale this month and this was super helpful!)

SheLeads: An Awakenings Syllabus to #AmplifyWomen, by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson for Missio Alliance (A response from a woman of color to the CT article that set the Christian blogosphere on fire last month, plus a fabulous list of books and articles to read.)

Thirteen Lessons on Motherhood: One for Every Year I’ve Been a Mom, by Tina Osterhouse at her blog (I needed to read all of these!)

Why a Racially Insensitive Photo of Southern Baptist Seminary Professors Matters, by Jemar Tisby at The Washington Post

In Case You Missed it at Scraping Raisins:

Are You Done Having Children? (find out if we’re done …)

Motherhood as Spiritual Practice? {A Review of Long Days of Small Things}

Love Like a Fool {A Review of Redeeming Ruth}

 

Find Me Elsewhere on the Web at:

SheLoves: In Solidarity with the Butt Wipers

The Times Record: In the Fire and here, too

Velvet Ashes: A Letter to the One Returning Home

***

I feel I’m standing at the edge of summer and there is so much freedom and so much possibility. And so little sleep and so many tantrums … pray for me. Don’t let the pretty pictures fool you.  😉 (See above posts about motherhood for a more detailed view of life as i see it right now …)

Drop me a comment about what you have been into or connect with me on social media! I’m always looking for good recommendations!

xo

Leslie

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Linking up with Leigh Kramer (What I’m Into) and Emily P. Freeman (What I Learned this Spring)

Monthly Mentionables {April 2017}

I took a four month break from doing these updates. At first, I didn’t miss it, but then I realized having a record of what I’m reading, writing and listening to keeps me accountable. I read less than usual when I don’t have to report back to the internet world how exactly I spend my time. So here we are again.

Here’s a mash-up of some books, podcasts and articles I enjoyed over the past few months, as well as some insignificant personal news for your reading pleasure.

What have you been into?

Books

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens–Read this with my book club for December/January.

Dangerous Territory, by Amy Peterson–You can read my review of this here.

Divided by Faith, by Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith–You can read some quotes from this book here.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford–Read last month with my book club. We all really enjoyed it. It was fascinating to read about the Japanese internment and how Asians were treated during WW II in the U.S.

The Living Cross: Exploring God’s Gift of Forgiveness and New Life, by Amy Boucher Pye–Enjoyed reading this for Lent this year.

Long Days of Small Things: Motherhood as Spiritual Discipline, by Catherine McNeil–Review coming soon! Loved it.

Prophetic Lament, by Soong Chan-Rah–You can read some quotes I loved from the book here.

Redeeming Ruth: Everything Life Takes, Love Restores, by Meadow Rue Merrill–Review coming soon! Powerful, poetic and heart-wrenching.

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, by Natalie Goldberg–This is now one of my favorite books on writing. Highly recommend.

 

Personal News

Spring is here! (Sort of …)

 

We had several inches of snow this past weekend, but it all melted as of Monday. But I managed to snag some lilacs before they were covered in snow. We are loving being able to go to parks, “hike” and go on walks again without having to bundle up.

My Husband Kisses Other Women

I should use that for a blog title one day as click bait. It’s actually true, though it’s within the context of being a stage actor. My husband completed his first show since we got married seven years ago. Six weeks of rehearsals, four, sometimes five, nights a week and an entire month of weekend shows after that. It was stretching, but also magical to see him use his gifts on the stage. We’re in negotiations about how frequently this should be a part of our life. I’ll let you know.

Snack Dinner

Brilliant. My friend posted her dinner on Instagram recently and inspired me. I’ve never seen the kids run to dinner so fast at the announcement that “Snack dinner is ready!”

Four Eyes

After 38 years of perfect vision, I need glasses. I’m already annoying my husband with all the metaphors involving nearsightedness, vision and blindness. Stay tuned. This is not a picture of my new pair, but I’m planning on buying at Warby Parker. Seems like a great deal–they’ll send you five frames for free to try on and you can mail them back. Looks like I can get some glasses for under $100!

Elk!

Reason #317 I know I am no longer in Chicago: three elk blocked the path on my run last week!

Chubby Chinese Babies

I managed to track down the most diverse part of northern Colorado located within three courtyards of international student housing at the university near us. I have been volunteering every Friday morning at their international women’s club. I’ve met women from about fifteen different countries and there are usually about five babies with their mamas there to sit on the couch nursing with me. I’ve gotten to speak Chinese again, learn how to cook different foods and fill the mysterious hole in my soul that can’t get enough of cultures other than my own.

Podcasts

(New to Podcasts? Check out this article to get started!)

The Calling–I enjoy most of these, so you can basically start anywhere! Richard Clark has a wide variety of guests, and I always appreciate hearing about people’s personal take on the concept of calling.

The Longest Shortest Time–How to Not (Accidentally) Raise a Racist–This is an outstanding podcast to educate your children about race. The show notes include additional resources.

Pass the Mic–This is my go-to podcast for talk about race issues from a Christian perspective. Jemar Tisby and Tyler Burns are the hosts and I think I learn a new vocabulary word from Jemar during every show. Very thoughtful, intelligent and God-centric race conversations.

Pray As You Go–I am lucky if I read a few verses in my Bible these days, but this app is helping me connect with God in the midst of the chaos. I often listen while getting the kids’ breakfast ready. Each podcast is less than 15 minutes and includes a song, Scripture passage (read twice) and some questions for meditation.

The Global Church Project–Freeing Church from Western Cultural Captivity (Soong Chan Rah)–As someone who studied the intersection of theology and culture for my masters degree, I have loved this podcast featuring diverse voices speaking into church issues.

Shalom in the City–My Sista’s Keeper (the first of a monthly conversation on race and unity). I appreciate these women having the courage to risk their personal comfort to talk about issues of race, white privilege and racism from a Christian perspective. Very insightful so far.

Sorta Awesome–Spiritual Crisis (the thing that rattled our faith)–Sorta Awesome is one of my all-time favorite podcasts, but this particular one hit many nerves with me (in good ways). I appreciate their honesty, openness and hopefulness in this particular podcast.

Truth’s Table–Glaringly devoid of the female perspective, Raan Network righted the wrong by beginning this new podcast featuring three extremely intelligent women discussing race issues. It has been fabulous so far.

Articles

(I read many articles over the past several months, but these were the most memorable and seemed to spark the best conversations on social media.)

 

Latasha Morrison: The Church is the ‘Only Place Equipped to Do Racial Reconciliation Well,” by Morgan Lee for Christianity Today

SuperBabies Don’t Cry, by Heather Kirn Lanier for Vela Magazine

When I Became a Mother, Feminism Let me Down, by Samantha Johnson for Huffington Post

Why I Send My Child to Public School, by D.L. Mayfield for Think Christian

White People: I Don’t Want You to Understand Me Better, I Want You to Understand Yourselves, by Ijeoma Oluo for Medium

Who’s in Charge of the Christian Blogosphere?, by Tish Harrison Warren for Christianity Today

4 Problematic Statements White People Make about Race–And What to Say Instead, by Ali Owens for Huffington Post

59 Percent of Millennials Raised in a Church Have Dropped Out–And They’re Trying to Tell Us Why, by Sam Eaton for FaithLit

In Case You Missed It on Scraping Raisins:

I wrote every day for 31 days during the month of March. Every Day. For a MONTH. I’d love for you to check out my series called “31 Days of #WOKE.”  You can also listen to an interview with me on this podcast, if that’s more your thing.

Find me elsewhere on the web:

For (In)Courage:

I Tried to Run Away from Love

For Mudroom Blog:

Loving After Trump

For SheLoves:

When the Answer is Not Now

My #Woke Journey

When You and Your Husband Have Different Callings

When Writing Feels Like a Waste of Time

 

I’d love to hear what you’ve been into, so please leave me a comment. Sign up for email updates so you won’t miss a post!

Linking up with Leigh Kramer.

**Contains Amazon affiliate links

Day 8: Three of my Favorite Podcasts by Christian Women of Color {31 Days of #WOKE}

For International Women’s Day today, I’d like to share three fabulous podcasts by women of color. Living in a nearly all-white area of the U.S., I am dependent on podcasts and social media to allow me to tune in to diverse voices. These are three of my favorites!

1.  Truth’s Table Podcast

 

I’ve been anticipating this podcast for a while. Though I’ve loved podcasts like Pass the Mic that discuss culture and the church from an African American perspective, it was mainly from the male point of view.

Truth’s Table is a new podcast where three female friends talk about culture, politics and faith in an intelligent, but down-to-earth way. They just started this up recently, but I’m looking forward to more. So far, I love the laughter and feel the need to listen with a pen in hand to jot down their wise words.

2. Faithfully Podcast

Faithfully Podcast is hosted by Nicola Menzie, a religion reporter and Faithfully Magazine Founding Editor. Along with her co-hosts and special guests, she discusses race, culture and Christianity. This podcasts includes a wide variety of topics and I have really enjoyed listening and learning from people very different from those in the white world I currently live in.

3. Shalom in the City

Shalom in the City is hosted by Osheta Moore, an African American woman with a passion to see cities transformed through the practice of “Shalom.” Osheta describes Shalom like this:

Why Shalom:  Shalom is a one way of saying peace, but it’s so much more than that.  It’s the world as it should be. Every woman who looks at her world, notices something that’s not working as it should be and asks, “How can I help” is a “Shalom Sista”.  The podcast exists to harness your earnestness and help you explore the many ways you can practice Shalom right in your context.”

More than just abstract talk, Osheta encourages her listeners to consider practical ways they can be a part of building shalom in their everyday lives.

 

***

I hope you have a chance to check out some of these podcasts. Don’t have the time? If you wash dishes, do laundry, commute to work, brush your teeth or put on make-up, you have time to listen to podcasts! I use the Pocket Casts app for Android, but there a variety of apps you can download to listen to podcasts throughout your day.

Are there any other podcasts by Christian women of color you know about? I’d love for you to share them in the comments section!

New to the Series? Start HERE (though you can jump in at any point!).

A 31 Day Series Exploring Whiteness and Racial Perspectives

During the month of March, 2017, I will be sharing a series called 31 Days of #Woke. I’ll be doing some personal excavating of views of race I’ve developed through being in schools that were under court order to be integrated, teaching in an all black school as well as in diverse classrooms in Chicago and my experiences of whiteness living in Uganda and China. I’ll also have some people of color share their views and experiences of race in the United States (I still have some open spots, so contact me if you are a person of color who wants to share). So check back and join in the conversation. You are welcome in this space.

 

Podcast Discussion: On Being/John Lewis #blackhistorymonth

John Lewis — Love in Action

This was the first year in six years of being married that I realized our anniversary is on Martin Luther King Jr.’s exact birthday, January 15. After a year of listening to podcasts, reading articles and books and intentionally prying open my eyes to inequalities between the races in the United States, black history month means more to me this year than it ever has.

I recently listened to a very powerful podcast where Krista Tippet of On Being interviewed Senator John Lewis, a Democrat serving in Georgia. Lewis knew MLK personally and was one of six organizers of the 1963 March on Washington during the Civil Rights Movement. In the podcast, he tells about what it meant to be a part of a nonviolent movement. I was surprised to learn that the men and women would practice protesting beforehand to be sure they could respond to threats in a nonviolent way.

Lewis himself was one of the first to be beaten unconscious by the police. He said:

“The movement created what I like to call a nonviolent revolution. It was love at its best. It’s one of the highest forms of love. That you beat me, you arrest me, you take me to jail, you almost kill me, but in spite of that, I’m going to still love you. I know Dr. King used to joke sometimes and say things like, ‘Just love the hell outta everybody. Just love ‘em.'”

That doesn’t always seem to be the spirit of resistance today. If we are protesting, arguing or writing, are we doing it out of love? Am I?

I loved Senator Lewis’ perspective as he talked about the movement to fight for civil rights. He took the long-view. He shared:

“Our struggle is not a struggle that lasts for one day, one week, one month, or one year, or one lifetime. It is an ongoing struggle … And in the end, I knew within my own soul that it was going to be a long haul, and I believe that. You don’t change the world, the society, in a few days. And it’s better. It is better to be a pilot light than to be a firecracker.”

Many of us are angry. In a fight, flight or freeze, we are ready to fight. But perhaps we need to take the less-sexy road and be a pilot light instead of lighting every wick in front of us, enjoying the thrill of being a firecracker, but sacrificing the longevity of a slow and steady burn.

Be sure to sign up for email updates, because you don’t want to miss this:

A 31 Day Series Exploring Whiteness and Racial Perspectives

Beginning March 1st, I will be sharing a series called 31 Days of #Woke. I’ll be doing some personal excavating of views of race I’ve developed through being in schools that were under court order to be integrated, teaching in an all black school as well as in diverse classrooms in Chicago and my experiences of whiteness living in Uganda and China. I’ll also have some people of color share their views and experiences of race in the United States (I still have some open spots, so contact me if you are a person of color who wants to share). So check back and join in the conversation. You are welcome in this space.

Monthly Mentionables {December}: Books, podcasts, recipes & articles

My family spent Christmas here in Grand Lake, CO with my parents, brothers and their families. It was breathtaking and good for my soul.

Hygge, “woke,” enneagram, writing, submissions, edits, rough drafts, pregnancy, depression, minivan, lament, Jesus, racism, election, baby, church-hopping, twitter and podcast are all words I would use to distill down the essence of 2016 for me. I have written at length about some of these, will write about some others in 2017 and may keep some of these things to myself as I continue to learn and process.

Which words characterized your year?

I’ve been planning posts for the year and will have a series soon called 12 Days of Books where I’ll be sharing all my favorite books. I’d love for you to join me and if you have a blog, you are welcome to share links to your book posts in the comments section! 

Here are some of the books, podcasts, recipes, articles and writing I have been into this month:



Books

On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, by William Zinsser
The first time I read this was for a writing class in college, so I was due for a refresher. It was just as helpful as I remembered and is a book I will return to in the future.


Blue Horses: Poems, by Mary Oliver
I’m still experimenting with poetry and I read this one in one sitting. A friend of mine advised that poetry be read and enjoyed like a glass of wine, but I don’t always have that luxury these days! I want to pick up some more books by Mary Oliver. I liked this one, but I still feel like an amateur when it comes to poetry, so I’ll refrain from giving too much of my opinion since I don’t feel qualified yet.

Parenting Without Borders: Surprising Lessons Parents Around the World Can Teach Us, by Christine Gross-Loh, Ph.D
I’m adding this to my list of favorite parenting books. As someone who has lived overseas and studied culture in grad school, I love books that explore non-western ways of doing things. This book has provided fodder for interesting conversations about preconceived notions about parenting. 

Several Short Sentences about Writing, by Verlyn Klinkenborg
The first thing you will notice about this book is the structure. Every sentence begins with a new line.  This as well as On Writing Well, both emphasize the need for short, clean sentences. I loved this book and it is on my list of favorite books about writing.



Podcasts
(Check out my favorite podcasts of 2016 here!)

Faith Conversations: Anita Lustrea

Mark Scandrette 
(His wife shared this post on SheLoves last month!)

Esther Emery

Carolyn Custis James

Makoto Fujimura

Lisa Sharon Harper

On Justice and Reconciliation

Faithfully Podcast

Will Christians Ever Get Race Relations Right?

White Christians, the Confederate flag and the Civil War

Black Lives Matter, the Black Church and the Prosperity Gospel

Hopewriters

I binge-watched every single episode of their second season in a week;-) The episode with Ann Voskamp was very powerful, but I would recommend all of these episodes to anyone who is interested in writing or blogging.

Sorta Awesome

The awesome freedom of the DON’T do list

The best in books & reading for 2016 

T.V.

Aside from forcing myself to watch the Gilmore Girl’s reunion on Netflix (I have to), I would highly recommend the much more life-changing, important documentary called 13th, which is also on Netflix right now. It falls right in line with all that I’ve been studying this year and features Bryan Stevenson and Michelle Alexander among others who take a deeper look into the prison system in the U.S. 

Recipes


For a new Christmas morning tradition, I used this cinnamon roll recipe shared by a woman from the Velvet Ashes community. I made them ahead the night before, froze them before the second rise and left them out of the oven 30 minutes before cooking.  They turned out perfectly!


We had two familes over and made Chinese hot pot for New Years Eve. Although I probably had hot pot about 30 times in my five years in China, I used this site as a guide for what to buy in the states. I bought this hot pot from Amazon and found the spice packs at our local Asian market. Though it was a bit tricky trying to feed kids who aren’t the best at waiting, it was such a fun, communal meal and I’ll definitely do it again!

Thought-provoking Articles from the Web:

Favorite Fiction of 2016, by Leigh Kramer on her blog (I’m using this list with my book club to pick out some fiction books this year.)

It’s Not Just a Danish Word that Made Dictionary’s shortlist; It’s a Lifestyle, by NPR (an article on hygge!)

Life After ‘The New Jim Crow,’ by Brentin Mock of Citylab (an interview with Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness)

Where Love Abides, by Leah Abraham at SheLoves Magazine (a reflective practice for the new year)

4 Ways White People Can Process Their Emotions Without Bringing the White Tears, by Jennifer Loubriel of Everyday Feminism

10 Reflections on Ten Years of Reentry, by Ruthie at Rockyreentry.com

30 of the Most Important Articles by People of Color in 2016, by Zeba Blay for Huffington Post

55 of the Best Diverse Picture and Board Books of 2016, by Mrs. G at hereweread.com


In Case You Missed it:

6 Things to Do When You Live on White Island 

When You’ve Lost Your Wings {a poem}

Breastfeeding and the Liturgy of the Hours {for SheLoves}

***

Subscribe to Scraping Raisins by email and/or follow me on Twitter and Facebook. I’d love to get to know you better!

**This post contains affiliate links!  

Linking up with Leigh Kramer

 

22 Favorite Podcasts of 2016

22 Favorite Podcasts of 2016


This was the year of the podcast for me. I’m convinced podcasts are the stay-at-home mom’s version of continuing education. Podcasts turn mundane tasks like folding clothes, getting dressed, washing dishes, driving to the grocery store, cooking dinner and even showering into opportunities for personal growth and development.

Most of the podcasts I love fall into the categories of social justice, motherhood, writing/creativity and spirituality. Many of these have altered the way I now view the world. Thanks to each of these hosts for sharing their time, wisdom and connections with the world. Many of you are changing history right from your tiny padded bedroom closets. Thank you.


On Motherhood: 

A Mom’s Missionfield
I love the concept of this show and appreciate that Tiffany Castleberry doesn’t expect moms to drop all other callings when they see two pink lines on a test.

God Centered Mom
This show is so solid. Not a bit cheesy or fluffy, Heather MacFadyen plans challenging, encouraging and practical episodes that truly help you to be a better mom.


The Global Mom Show
If I had my own podcast, this would be it. I can really relate to wanting to raise kids with an awareness of the world outside of our small sphere.


On Race-related Issues:

Pass the Mic
Of all the podcasts, this one has impacted me the most this year. These African American men offer their intelligent, Bible-based perspective on the race issues in our country.

Faithfully Podcast
This podcast is newer to me, but has guests that discuss the intersection of faith and race and I really appreciate the insights I’ve gained from their discussions.

Kin City
I love that this podcast focuses on Chicago since I lived there for fifteen years. It’s a fascinating look at many of the social issues in Chicago today.

Code Switch
Code switch discusses current race issues from a more secular perspective since it is put on by NPR. But they have a way of handling heavy issues in a light way that I appreciate.


On Holistic Living & Spirituality

Seminary Dropout
(He also has a new podcast called OnRamp focused solely on racial issues that I’m excited to listen to!)
Shane Blackshear has some outstanding guests.  This show steers clear of evangelical buzzwords, clichés and assumptions. I appreciate the fresh perspective and focus on looking at Jesus and the Bible instead of just going through with the motions of Christianity.
 
The Practice
The Practice is the church service of a subgroup of Willowcreek that is attempting to integrate ancient church practices into their community worship. The speakers always usher me straight into the presence of God.

The Liturgists
This episode was the most powerful episode I listened to on race all year. Please listen if you haven’t! I would put The Liturgists into the category with Seminary Dropout of hosts who appreciate real, raw Jesus-following above status quo evangelicalism.

Persuasion
This podcast focuses on current articles or events in culture and spends time discussing them from an intelligent, Christian perspective. The discussions remind me of talks we would have late into the night about topics that our college professors would have brought up during my days in Christian college.

Quick to Listen
This and the following one are podcasts put out by Christianity Today.  This one takes on controversial issues, attempting to reframe them from a Christ-centric perspective.

The Calling
This podcast, also put on by CT, has had some fascinating guests recently such as Michelle Higgins, Propaganda, Shauna Niequist, Katelyn Beaty and Jemar Tisby. At the beginning of the podcast, the host always asks about a person’s calling, which is a topic I love to think about.

Epiphany Fellowship
This is one of the African American pastors I am listening to each week in my attempt to desegregate the Christian messages in my life.

Faith Conversations with Anita Lustrea 
I just discovered this podcast recently and have binge-listened to about ten of her episodes.

On Being
I have a girl voice crush on Krista Tippet. She is my favorite interviewer. She is SO well-prepared, thoughtful and inspiring. Unlike so many hosts, she rarely interjects herself into her interviews and does an outstanding job of drawing insight from the souls of those she interviews. LOVE.

Shalom in the City
The premise of this show is that we are all able to contribute to “Shalom,” or peacemaking in the cities where we live. Osheta has a variety of guests who are incredible world-changers on both large and small scales.



For Fun: 

Sorta Awesome
This podcast has THE BEST Facebook hangout group. I go here with questions before I go to my Facebook timeline! But the show itself is fabulous and after listening I always feel like I just sat down to have an intelligent conversation with a couple of girlfriends.

What Should I Read Next
My husband, narrator Adam Verner, was on this episode this year! Anne Bogel also has a fabulous voice and has contributed to the addition of approximately 100 books on my Goodreads to-read list. If you need suggestions for books to read, this show is for you!


On Writing:

Ann Kroeker, Writing Coach
Each of these episodes last anywhere from three to seven minutes as she provides snippets of encouragement for writers of all kinds (which I am in constant need of). I’m thankful for her wisdom.

Hope Writers
This podcast also provides lots of valuable advice for writers.

Beautiful Writers
I liked some of these episodes more than others, but loved the episodes where they interviewed professional writers on their daily rituals and practices in writing.

***


Check out my “Monthly Mentionables” posts for more of the specific episodes I loved this year!

***
 
What were your favorite podcasts?
COMING IN JANUARY: 12 DAYS OF BOOKS SERIES
I’ll be sharing lists of all my favorite books, so be sure to subscribe below so you don’t miss the discussion!
Subscribe to Scraping Raisins by email and/or follow me on Twitter and Facebook. I’d love to get to know you better!
 

Previous Post: Book Discussion Questions on Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson

22 Favorite Podcasts of 2016

 

Monthly Mentionables {November}



This month the Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time since 1908, Donald Trump was elected president, Mosul was invaded and the Gilmore Girls staged a timely reunion whereby we could all drown our sorrows in sappy Stars Hollow after stuffing ourselves with turkey and sweet potato casserole.

November 2016 really happened.  This is real life (and yes, this links to THAT YouTube video…).

In the midst of these huge (and not-so-huge) events, I learned a lovely new word, the Danish word “hygge.” Think snuggling up in an oversized chair next to a crackling fire, feet tucked under a plush throw blanket as you sip tea (or red wine) while re-reading Little Women and you have a pretty good working image of hygge. Tanya Marlow goes into greater depth in her article on the topic and joining the 900+ member Facebook group started by another SheLoves editor, Holly Grantham, will offer you daily doses of cozy if you’re into that kind of thing (which I am).  Hygge dives head-first into the search for contentment, making it perfectly okay to pour time and energy into your home environment if that will make your nest a peaceful place you truly want to spend time in and invite others to snuggle into as well.

Hygge is a pretty good picture of Sabbath rest.

Christmas wears hygge well, I’d say.  Twinkle lights, winking candles, pottery mugs of hot cocoa, fake or real fireplaces, and our houses wreathed with spiced air.  

But Christmas also brings honor to the spirit of waiting. We light candles with our littles, shushing them and ignoring their whining, hoping to invite them into the mystery that is God as a baby on earth.  We meditate, read and sing of Advent wonder–Jesus coming again–maybe tomorrow, maybe next year, or perhaps one thousand years from now. At Christmas, we enter into childlike delight--even if it is out of duty.

I need Christmas this year.  I think we all do.

But in spite of the heaviness of the past month, I want to share some of the books, podcasts and articles that I’ve been reading and listening to. Many of them have brought sparkling light to the dark corners of November.


Books:

Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom, by Wendy Speake and Kelli Stuart
Ooh, I loved this book! It is the modern day Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art for moms. These ladies understand the tension moms have between wanting to care for their families while at the same time yearning to create.  They share the stories of more than 30 moms through clear, thoughtful and poetic writing. Life Creative is a perfect mix of practical and abstract, outward-looking and reflective.  If you are a mama with the desire to write, act, sing, paint, draw, sew or any other creative venture, you should definitely check this book out!


The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
We read this for our book club this month and I have to say that while this was entertaining and educational on some levels, it did not have as much depth as I hoped.  The reading level did not strike me as being very high and it almost felt like a Hallmark version of a WWII story, or a PG movie at the very least. I listened to most of it on an overnight road trip from Chicago to Denver, though, so the fact that it kept my attention in the wee hours of the night has to be an indicator that it was at least interesting enough to keep me awake.


 

Podcasts:

Epiphany Fellowship
This African American pastor, Eric Mason, was recommended to me by someone from the Be the Bridge Facebook group. The week after the election, I really needed to hear how people of color were responding to all of this. Since I attend a nearly all white church, I am committing to listening to a sermon by a person of color each week to diversify the voices I listen to.

In God We Trust (First sermon after the election). 

#WokeChurch

#WokeChurch: It’s Time for the Church to do Something

#WokeChurch–Lamentations 3:1-18

#WokeChurch–Jesus on Justice


Kin City (On social issues in Chicago)
The South Side & Segregation with Natalie Moore

(Haven’t listened to many yet, but others are on how cops are trained, racial reconciliation, homelessness, adoption and tokenism)


On Being
Vincent Harding (Civil Rights leader)–Is America Possible?

Isabel Wilkerson (author of The Warmth of Other Suns)


Pass the Mic
Processing Donald Trump with Jemar Tisby

Round table: Perspective 

Current Events: The Election of 2016


Persuasion
This is one my favorite podcasts these days. I appreciate that the hosts are not afraid to discuss controversial issues in the church today, but also love the way they represent Christian women as intellectual, capable and respectable. 

The Outsourcing of Women’s Discipleship to Para-church Personalities
(On the issue of Lifeway’s dismissal of Jen Hatmaker books).

Evangelicals Are Having an Identity Crisis


Seminary Dropout
#SheLeads Summit–Austin Panel 
A panel with Latasha Morrison (founder of Be the Bridge), Tish Harrison Warren, Keith Atkinson and Kenny Green about how women are incorporated into the church body.


This American Life
The Sun Comes Up 
Interviews with both Trump and non-Trump supporters in the day and week following the election.


Thought-Provoking Articles from the Web:

An Open Letter to the Evangelical Church, from the Black Girl in Your Pew, by Ilesha Graham for Huffington Post.

Dear Children of Aleppo: The People of the World Needed to tell you THIS on #GIVINGTuesday, by Ann Voskamp at her blog.

Finding Contentment in the Uncomfortable, by Christen Bordenkircher for The Mudroom Blog (I loved this for selfish reasons because it was so similar to my own story!)

Gilmore Girls: A Series in Books, by Anne Bogel for Modern Mrs. Darcy. (A glimpse of some of the 339 books we saw Rory reading in the first seven seasons!)

Glennon Doyle Melton’s Gospel of Self-Fulfillment, by Jen Pollock Michel for Christianity Today.

I Was an Evangelical Magazine Editor, but Now I Can’t Defend my Evangelical Community, by Katelyn Beaty for The Washington Post.

In Defense of Domesticity, by Tyler Blanski for Crisis Magazine.


Lifeway Stops Selling Jen Hatmaker Books Over LGBT Beliefs, by Kate Shellnut for Christianity Today.

No Place for Self Pity, No Room for Fear, by Toni Morrison for The Nation.

To the Mamas of Littles During the Holidays, by Lora Lynn Fanning at Vita Familiae.

Trump Syllabus 2.0 by N.D.B. Connolly and Keisha N. Blaine (an actual syllabus of a course that explores the foundations of “Trumpism”)

What I Want Pastors to Know About Women’s Ministry, by Sharon Hodde Miller for Christianity Today.

5 Ways Parents Pass Down Prejudice and Racism, by Danielle Slaughter for Huffington Post.




Websites:
 
Barefoot Books: Diverse and Inclusive Books
(Great books for Christmas presents)

The Advent Project Devotional Series (sign up for free for daily devos for Advent including art, music, a hymn, prayer, scripture reading and a devotional)



For SheLoves

Madeleine L’Engle Made Me Do It









For Scraping Raisins:

This Was Not the Plan

Posts about Christmas & Advent

The Anticipation of Advent (four ways we like to celebrate Advent as a family)

The Truth About Family Advent 

Living the Sticky Life 

*** 

Subscribe to Scraping Raisins by email and/or follow me on Twitter and Facebook. I’d love to get to know you better!

Linking up with Leigh Kramer  and Emily P. Freeman

*This post contains affiliate links.

Monthly Mentionables {October}

Running, cooking, baking, reflecting and socializing (aided by much additional coffee drinking) have resumed a bit now that our new little one is nearly two months old and I’m out of the the Month One Fog. I feel more like myself than I have in about eight months, actually.

I’ve also had a chance to listen to some more podcasts this month, which directly correlates to the amount of laundry, cleaning and showering I do since that is when I usually listen to them. (Laundry is happening a lot more than showering these days since we can get by without me being completely hygienic, but not without clothes for our family.)

I’ve also been spending more time working–yes, working (and I don’t mean the butt-wiping/endless-feeding/boo-boo-kissing/mothering type of work)! Albeit as a volunteer, I’m officially an editor for the online publication, SheLoves, a fabulous community of women who are dedicated to living out their love for Jesus in practical ways in the world. I edit pieces that run on Mondays and get to publish with them monthly. I’m loving it!       

Here’s some of what I’ve been up to in the book, podcast, recipe, article and writing departments this month:


Books


The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
This was the book for my book club this month and I stayed up waaay too late to finish it. It didn’t change my life, but was definitely engrossing and entertaining.  It was fun to read a page-turner instead of my standard, serious non-fiction fare.

 

Given: Poems, by Wendell Berry
I’m embarrassed to admit that this is the first book of poetry that I have read cover-to-cover in about ten years AND the first book by Wendell Berry I have read (shameful, I know).  Last month I attempted to read A Widening Light: Poems of the Incarnation, edited by Luci Shaw, but took too much time analyzing the poems and reading them aloud that I had to return it to the library before I was finished.  So this time around, I decided to just read it as I would a book, hoping that I would absorb a bit of beauty along the way.  His poetry was very readable for the non-poetry reader.  My favorite poem in the book was “How to Be a Poet (to remind myself).” Here’s an excerpt:


Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill–more of each
than you have–inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time 
to eternity. Any readers
who like your work,
doubt their judgment…


Have you read a book of poetry before? What was your favorite? I’d love to hear your advice on the best way to read it in the comment section!  Enlighten me;-)

Monthly Mentionables {October}: Here's some of what I've been up to in the book, podcast, recipe, article and writing departments this month.
Morning Walk




Podcasts

The God-Centered Mom

The Power of Sex in Marriage: Francie Winslow

The Ripple Effect of Healthy Sexual Connection: Francie Winslow

Life Creative: Kelli Stuart 

10 Ways to Stop Meltdowns & Arguments: Kirk Martin



Persuasion

A Woman’s Place with Katelyn Beaty (Part 1)

A Woman’s Place with Katelyn Beaty (Part 2)

Home is Where the Art Is

The Self We Find in “Eat, Pray, Love”


Sorta Awesome

Social media tips, tricks, advice and more


Recipes!
(This is a tell-tale sign that I am feeling 90% better than a month ago:  I feel like cooking again!)

Chicken Corn Chowder (Plan to Eat)
A woman from the church we’ve been visiting brought enough of this soup over to feed us for FIVE days. And anything I’m willing to eat five days in a row, must be tasty, right?  I made it last night for Halloween and didn’t love it as much as I did when this friend made it, but it’s definitely worth keeping in the fall repertoire and tweaking. 

Sheet Pan Chicken Tikka (Smitten Kitchen)
This was delicious and very easy as long as you already have all the Indian spices like coriander, garam masala, ginger, etc.  We ate it with rice, topped with purple onions, lemon wedges and cilantro.  Yum.

Healthy Pumpkin Bread (Cookie + Kate)
Ok, so this was “healthy” in that it used coconut oil, wheat flour and maple syrup instead of the usual fare, but in this case “healthy” also meant “doesn’t taste very good.”  That said, if you’re looking for a healthier pumpkin bread, this would be a good choice with one caveat: ADD CHOCOLATE CHIPS.

Creamy Thai Sweet Potato Curry (Pinch of Yum)
This was very tasty and I’ll make it again.  Next time I think I’ll add chicken just so it’s not so starchy with the potato + rice combo.

Miso Salmon with Mushrooms (PBS Food) 
A friend of mine brought this dish after the baby was born and I begged her for the recipe.  It is very simple as long as you are able to pick up Miso and Mirin.  I found Mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine) in the regular grocery store, but my friend brought me the Miso from an Asian grocery store.  I actually made it twice this month–once making the foil “pouches” and once just covering the dish with foil.  I’d definitely recommend using the pouches.  I also used frozen salmon (defrosted) and it tasted just fine! I served with white rice and fresh spinach nuked in the microwave for a minute, then tossed with a bit of soy sauce.  Delicious.


Thought-Provoking Articles from the Web


Book Club Questions for Fiction/Novels from Lit Lovers (used for our book club this month)

Ethical Fashion and Sustainable Lifestyle Resources at Eco Warrior Princess

How Millennial Moms are Changing the World by Kelli Stuart for Huffington Post

‘This Is Us’ and the Dignity of Human Emotion, by Abby Perry for Christ and Pop Culture 

This One Shift in Perspective Will Change Your Life, by Claire De Boer at her blog, The Gift of Writing

What Jen Hatmaker Gets Right About Christian Love, by Katelyn Beaty for Christianity Today

What White Children Need to Know about Race, by Ali Michael and Eleonora Bartoli

18 Children’s Books with Characters of Color, by Joanna Goddard for her blog, A Cup of Jo

For Fun:

These Hilarious Parenting Comics Are Almost Too Real, by Valerie Williams for Scary Mommy
 
The Adventures of George Washington (language alert!)




Published Elsewhere on the Web:


Frozen Manna, for SheLoves


In Case You Missed it on Scraping Raisins:

In This Season (of motherhood)

An Evening with Bryan Stevenson: Get Closer 




What about you?  I would LOVE to hear any recommendations you have for any of the above categories!

***

Subscribe to Scraping Raisins by email and/or follow me on Twitter and Facebook. I’d love to get to know you better!

Linking up with Leigh Kramer

~This post includes affiliate links