And Many More

Happy, happy first day of autumn, dear readers. It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Also, Happy, happy birthday Bilbo Baggins.

The-pity-of-Bilbo-may-rule

Find more cool artwork from Dan at eucatastrophe.com.

Dear Pinterest, We Need to Have a Talk About Bookshelves

Hello Pinterest, you inspirer and ruiner of dreams.  

Last night I sat on my couch and stared at the bookshelves across the room. I thought, “Those could probably look better.” The shelves with the McCullough biographies were a little crowded, and the audiobooks looked cluttery. The kids’ shelves have been in heavy use, and it shows. There are volumes that we’ve loaned out and stuck back when they’re returned.

So, you see — general bookshelf-ish clutter. I needed to straighten and love them a bit. As with many of my projects, I decided to inspire myself by heading over to your site, Pinterest, and see some pretty pictures.

I typed in “styled bookshelves.”

But here’s what I saw.

18 books

(18 books)

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(30 books)

(30 books)

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(22 books)

(22 books)

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WHERE ARE ALL THE BOOKS?!  (Look, I even counted them for you. Not many, right?)

Let’s review. These are *BOOK*shelves we’re talking about, right? Not museum shelves? Look at that one with JUST a vase on one whole shelf! This is not my reality. There are no empty shelves to be had here.

I came across one blogger who said she had “so many” books to fit into her styled bookshelf, so she really had to plan. I counted again. There were TWENTY-ONE BOOKS on her gigantic shelf. Twenty-one whole books!

backwardsbooks

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Then there was the picture with the books TURNED AROUND BACKWARDS so the spines faced in and the pages faced out. WHAT?! Yes. So all the pretty white pages match.

I guess people are picking their books now because they’re pretty? And it doesn’t matter what is inside them? (Here I am inexplicably hearing Gaston from “Beauty and the Beast” in my head. “How can you read this? There’s no pictures!”)

booksbycolor

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Here’s another trend I noticed that made me crazy. People organize their books BY COLOR?! What is this madness?! Who DOES that?! How can you find anything?!

Maybe you are spectacularly visually-minded and you can live that way. My chest gets tight just thinking about doing that. Plus I think we would have an overstock of blue books (like in the picture!) due to the amount of American history and theology in our library.

Deep breath. 

Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of having a place for my eye to rest. A framed photograph here and there, a vase, a well-chosen tchotchke — these all make a bookshelf more pleasing to the eye.

That’s the help I went looking for. What I found made me want to stage an intervention whilst overdramatically declaring the end of civilization as we know it.

So. Pinterest. This topic is officially off-limits between you and me. We will not speak of it again.

Because to be honest, Pinterest, I can’t think of many things more beautiful than these…

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(When I’m not ranting at Pinterest, I am pinning happily here.)

Book Review: Real Love for Real Life

“Home is the school where we learn that love shows itself in the details.”

My friend Laura and I just finished up Andi Ashworth’s Real Love for Real Life: the Art and Work of Caring. I wanted to take this opportunity to heartily recommend it.

We live in a culture that has largely farmed out caretaking to paid individuals, and Andi posits that perhaps this shift has undermined the value of unpaid caretaking. Whether it be to our children, our parents, or our neighbors and friends, special care in the mundane (and the not-so-mundane) can feel like an overlooked skill.

Parenting is the most obvious battleground for this struggle. Who hasn’t felt as though no one notices or appreciates their efforts in care for needy little ones or the home in which they live? Andi encourages us on the road of day-in and day-out caring for our kids. Keeping our eyes on Christ, who gave His life to serve, we can find encouragement and endurance for the road ahead.

Andi reminds us of the value of taking time to celebrate as a family in recounting her family’s annual Valentine’s dinner. She gives examples of hospitality to strangers and neighbors. She recounts friends’ faithfulness in preparing for her son’s rehearsal dinner at their homeReal Love for Real LIfe. She also reminds us of the importance of prayer in care for people.

Reading this book, I felt called back to the wisdom present in Edith Schaeffer’s Hidden Art. Andi encourages caretakers in creativity and the careful art of fostering homes and environments designed as havens for those who shelter there.

All the while, Andi maintains an eye towards balancing the need for rest and play amidst the tasks that might fill our days. I found her perspective on saying “no” — to many good things, in order to say “yes” to the best things — refreshing.

The book also provides a sweet glimpse into the life at Art House, where Andi and her husband Charlie Peacock (“Chuck”) encourage artists and musicians with hospitality and prayer. I’ve been an observer of their ministry for years, so this element of the book was a treat for me.

Rabbit Room Press was responsible for the reissuing of this gem. You can buy it here.

Linkage

Why We Pursue Knowledge –  “But what if education—what if learning and thinking and knowing—is less about what you do with your knowledge than it is about the person you become in the process? What if education is first and foremost about becoming image bearers?”

Alison’s Thrifted Makeover – I really enjoyed this series by the Nester on a little makeover she did for a friend. Summer is always the time that I start rolling over ideas for changing up the house.

Proper Introductions: Summer Suggestions – Lanier has some ideas of what you might want to read this summer. She always has a unique list. Plus her new puppy is named Bonnie Blue — how cute is that?!

 

Letter from Jim

One of our family favorites is Garrison Keillor’s series labeled with the names of the seasons.  A particular favorite is the

Spring

“Spring” collection, which contains the following piece entitled Letter from Jim.

The letter comes from a childhood friend who has recently turned forty.  At the same time, he has lost his job and, out of desperation, taken a job for which he is ill-suited and overworked, for far less pay.  He feels unappreciated by his wife and family. He befriends a younger woman in his office, and the opportunity presents itself for him to drive to Chicago with her for a weekend conference.  He continues:

‘I thought, so this is what adultery is like: simple.  I sat down in the front yard under our spruce tree and waited for her to pick me up.

I believe that men and women can part for many reasons, including the lack of love and appreciation.  I left my parents for my wife because she appreciated me and they didn’t.  Twenty years later, I sit in my own front yard, waiting to join a woman who appreciates me more.  But in five years, or six, or eight, will I go to a higher bidder?  What happens when I’m older and my grade falls?  Who do I choose when I’m old and can’t run fast and nobody chooses me?

‘I sat there in the front yard and thought, so this is what adultery is like: it’s just horse-trading.

‘As I sat on the lawn, looking down the street, I saw that we all depend on each other.  I saw that although I thought my sins could be secret, that they would be no more secret than an earthquake.  All these houses and all these families, my infidelity will somehow shake them.  It will pollute the drinking water.  It will make noxious gasses come out of the ventilators in the elementary school.

‘When my wife and I scream in senseless anger, blocks away a little girl we do not know spills a bowl of gravy all over a white tablecloth.

‘If I go to Chicago with this woman who is not my wife, somehow the school patrol will forget to guard an intersection, and someone’s child may be injured.  A sixth-grade teacher will think, ‘What the hell?’ and eliminate South America from geography.  Our minister will decide, ‘What the hell? I’m not going to give that sermon on the poor.’ Somehow, my adultery will cause the man in the grocery store to say, ‘To hell with the health department, this sausage was good yesterday; it certainly can’t be any worse today.’

‘I just leave this story there.  Anything more I could tell you would be self-serving.  Except to say that we depend on each other more than we know.’

Heard at Hutchmoot: Shiny Things

Heard at Hutchmoot: A Series on Words From Our Weekend in Nashville

The keynote speaker at Hutchmoot was an author by the name of Leif Enger.  His most notable works are the bestseller Peace Like a River and So Brave, Young, and Handsome.

Leif gave us some encouragement to see from his life on a Minnesota farm.  He and his wife like to take walks at sunset when the weather is warm.  Leif usually carries some change in his pocket, and there’s a certain rock where he will leave a coin or two.

Why?  Because the crows like shiny things.  When the couple passes by that rock later on, the coins are always gone.  Leif said it gives the birds happiness to have shiny things in their nest, and it gives him joy to think of those coins making their way into trees around the property.

Gifts

He said, “Look for the shiny things. Store them away.”

What’s a shiny thing for you?

A shiny thing this time of year is my husband’s faithfulness to turn on the Christmas tree lights early in the morning. The kids’ eagerness to shop for their siblings. The Behold the Lamb of God concert.

A shiny thing anytime of year is the light filtering through the trees a certain way. The smell of homemade soup. Times with friends when you laugh until you cry. Words from a familiar Psalm.

When I was eager to look at those crows as hoarders, Leif Enger turned that image on its head and said I should be a hoarder of shiny things.  Shiny things make us grateful to the Giver of all good gifts.

 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. James 1:16-18

P.S. Those books mentioned above? Check them out. That man that my husband now calls his “friend” is a wonderful storyteller.

Nearness to Joy

The grief that came to me then was nothing like the grief I had felt for myself alone, at the end of my stay in Lexington. This grief had something in it of generosity, some nearness to joy. In a strange way it added to me what I had lost. I saw that, for me, this country would always be populated with presences and absences, presences of absences, the living and the dead. The world as it is would always be a reminder of the world that was, and of the world that is to come.

p. 132, Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry

I just would like to put in another plug for Berry’s work.  I started reading his writing in a collection of short stories, called Fidelity, and moved on to Hannah Coulter. Now I’m deep into what most people say is his other masterwork, Jayber Crow.  It’s every bit as good as people say it is — maybe better.