reading round-up (5.01.15)

After spending the first part of this year feeling like everything was askew with the entire upstairs ripped apart for our new floor project, which resulted in an unfortunate injury for Aaron and therefore took three times longer than we expected, it finally feels like we are at least a little bit on top of things at home. Last night I wiped off the counters and ran the dishwasher before bed, and we marveled at how nice it feels to have the illusion of a house that is under control. After four months of having every closet turned inside out and shuffling all the stuff upstairs from one room to the next, with plenty of construction materials, tools, and sawdust in the mix… Man-oh-man. The clear space makes it easier to breathe. A-lle-lu-ia.

And in case you were ooh-ing and ahhh-ing over the pictures I just shared of our house, wondering what there was to be dissatisfied about, I offer you this picture of the lights right above our bed:

photo 1 (3)

***
[Christianity] I was so impressed by a recent message from Jason Meyer discussing oppressive “hyper-headship” as one of the primary pitfalls of false leadership from his text in 2nd Corinthians. I recommend at least skimming the transcript to look at the descriptions and categories of abusive behaviors, but if you don’t want to read the transcript or listen to the whole thing (45 minutes), this summary will give you a picture of what he said with some key quotes. Any discussion that is quicker to define a Christian understand of gender by distancing itself from “feminism” (as if that was a bad word?!) instead of clearly separating from any form of domestic or spiritual abuse seems only misguided at first, but is actually creating a safe environment for abuse:

Doing nothing is doing something: it is looking the other way so the abusers can do their thing without worrying who is watching. Saying nothing is saying something—it’s saying, “Go ahead, we don’t care enough to do anything.”

Aaron and I really enjoyed “Why God’s Will Isn’t Always Clear” from Jon Bloom  because, well, it hasn’t always been clear for us, and a little encouragement in the midst of things is always good to have.

[Clothes] Part of the Early 2015 Life Overhaul included moving Annie’s bed in to our walk-in-closet and moving all our clothes to our spacious laundry room, and I went through every article of my clothing with the inspiration of this article about useful wardrobes. (I’ve been thinking about this for a while!) I now have a lot less clothes than I used to, and getting dressed is a lot easier.

[Science] If you are a fan of eating at Chipotle (those burrito bowls… mmm mmm), you might like this article from Iowa Corn sTalk with 6 Facts refuting Chipotle’s irrational series “Farmed and Dangerous.” Their food is great! But the current business practice of deceiving their customers and attacking family farmers is …not.

[Books] I have three books on my stack of stuff to read… it takes a little more to get there these days! And I think I need to get some fiction other than “The Pout-Pout Fish” going on in my days here, too.
The Gospel-Centered Woman: Understanding Biblical Womanhood through the Lens of the Gospel by Wendy Alsup
Inheritance of Tears: Trusting the Lord life when death visits the womb by Jessalyn Hutto 
Starved for Science: How Biotechnology is being kept out of Africa by Robert Paarlberg 

[Music]
Andrew Peterson’s God of My Fathers is so touching for me. I love the lyrics at the end, especially:

Now we’re counting stars and counting sand
Little feet and little hands
We’re counting joys…
…Like their father, they are looking for a home
Looking for a home beyond the sea
So be their God and guide them
Till they lie beneath these hills
And let the great God of my father
Be the great God of their children still.
-God of My Fathers, by Ben Shive. From “Counting Stars.”

We also have been enjoying Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending almost every morning — what a beautiful start to the day.

We’re spending the beautiful weekend with some family members and planning to enjoy some “time off” from work and the house while the weather is so lovely. Happy Weekend!
Iris

reading round-up (5.16.14)

red tulip

[One] It’s hard to shake off the joy that creeps up along with the new blades of grass each spring. Did you know one of the oldest notated English songs celebrates this very fact? It’s true. Sumer is Icumen In!



[Two] Earlier this week, my younger sister (also a homeowner and expectant mama) and I chatted about our yards, which feels incredibly grown up. We’re both trying to cultivate beauty and order in houses that were poorly neglected by previous owners with the intention of turning a profit by selling in a few years. I’m not even sure what we used to talk about, but now it’s the merits (and resale value) of investing in grass seed, pavers, mulch, walkways, and firepits. So with that in mind, I really appreciated this article about how the primary work of man — that is, tilling the soil — makes nature more beautiful, and how much benefit there is to subduing the wilderness. My favorite quote? “If farming is the Martha of man’s relationship with nature, gardening is the Mary.” [Get Out of the Wilderness and Into the Garden.]

[Three] Ever wonder what you should really know about American History? Here’s a five-minute clip from David McCullough to assist in your quest for greater knowledge (or just a higher level of cultural literacy.)
[Four] If you’re looking for an hour-long podcast, we thought this interview in defense of genetic modification of plants was extremely interesting. Even if you are skeptical (or disagree) with the practices, this discusses the history of plant breeding AND some other common methods of modern plant breeding that are, in my opinion, infinitely  more concerning than mainstream cis- and trans-genic modifications. (Seriously. Should we be eating plants that came from parent plants blasted by radiation in order to produce the desired mutation? Or should we use precise technology to get the exact mutation we want and avoid the unknown effects of radiation or other changes? If you are lost in this part of the discussion, you need to study further before “taking a stand” on the GMO debate.) Furthermore, I thought his points about how your worldview shapes everything you believe were very insightful, especially in regards to the lack of “inherent virtue” in nature. (Maybe this relates a little bit to the necessity of man tilling the soil after the fall? Nature alone isn’t going to fully sustain anymore and scientific progress is going to have to improve things? Much to think on here.)
[Six] Poor Max has his first ear infection. Dogs have deep, crooked ear canals and those things can get nasty. I won’t link to this, but a cursory glance of Google search offerings about caring for a dog’s ear infection before you can get in to the vet uncovered another world of crazy. Not only are there major “mommy wars” about food, medical care, and vaccinations, but also “doggy wars” about those things, too. I mean, if some tincture of coconut oil, raw unfiltered with-the-mother apple cider vinegar, leftover organic red quinoa water and a splash of sriracha (I don’t know what that is, but I’ve seen it on pinterest too many times for it to not be the next big item in your naturopathic remedies) makes your dog feel better, great… but I kept finding people saying things like, “I tried this natural remedy for four months and his eardrum finally ruptured – now he feels great!” It disturbed me. I hope they aren’t doing that to their kids, too. I’m pretty confident this is the result of some trapped water leftover from his weekend swim and some combination of anti-fungal and antibiotics should solve the problem.
SAD EYES
[Seven] I could (and probably will) just write a whole post about how much we have loved (and learned) in having a dog for almost six months. In the meantime, several of the points from this list are really hitting home for me. (Also, there are whole lists of videos on YouTube where military service-members reunite with their dogs. I accidentally watched one of them right before Bible study a few weeks ago and was late because I had to go downstairs and redo all my makeup afterwards. Then I cried when I put Max in the kennel and he looked at me with the sad eyes. It was rough.)
happy max
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! We are hoping to enjoy some time in the sunshine with Max, evening bonfires, and have hopes of getting LOTS of painting done inside and outside the house. (It’s about time!)

{contentment} morning has broken

{pretty} Spring Wreath, on my door at last!
20140410-065854.jpg

{happy}
I’ve discussed “favorite seasons” with several people lately. I usually say Fall is my favorite, but that I love special things about each one, too. I love the turning leaves, hot tea with sweaters, bonfires; and plaid flannel; then I love the fat, fluffy snowflakes in winter, with peppermint cocoa and warm blankets on the couch; when the crocus begin popping up, I love the warmer breezes, the tree buds, the way the whole earth is a manifold witness to the Easter story; and then summer comes, when I love the strong green stalks for juicy home-grown tomatoes, swimming outside, and glasses of ice water that leave rings of condensation all over the patio table.

We’ve reached that beautiful part of the year where the snow is melting here -not quite to the quintessential spring state- but I do not even care any more. This week, with these 50, 60, 70 degree temperatures, with gray ice stacks leftover in shady neighborhood yards, with brown yards and bare trees, with muddy puppy prints all over my house? This week is easily my favorite season this year!

20140410-070936.jpg

I walk Max every day after breakfast and while he trots along, I hum my favorite spring hymn:

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird.
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning!
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word!

…Praise with elation, praise every morning,
Praise for creation of the new day!”
-Morning Has Broken, text by Eleanor Farjeon.

{funny}
Spring brings bunnies. Or, in Max’s case: Bunny legs. Ew. He tried to drag a poor rabbit’s hind quarter into the house and I called Aaron in a panic, one of those distressed “YOUR DOG is …!” sort of discussions. When I got Max to come in without his bunny leg, he sat at the door and cried for it. As if I care.

20140410-071351.jpg

{real}
We had the come-to-Jesus moment about furniture in the new house. With current and projected future budgets in our extended vow of intense frugality, a doggie and a little one on the way… Couch discussions had to be, well, couched for a long time. I have really been looking forward to getting a new living room couch sometime. My night time dreams have included shopping at furniture stores. We have looked at shapes and swatches, talking about them and getting excited for how cool it would be to have something we really like. We called these white floral couches “The Grad School Beasts,” and sometimes I tease Aaron by telling him, “today I am pretending this is a nubby gray sectional.”

Last night, my parents arrived for a birthday visit with a few more free hand-me-downs — an unmerited blessing all it’s own. We settled on keeping the grad school beasts, much worse for the wear after surviving the intense puppy stage from which we are now emerging, in the living room without making big plans to get new ones soon, since my meager domestic bliss-and-beauty fund has a LOT to accomplish elsewhere in the house. and I announced: “I am choosing to be really, really, really happy about this furniture!” Maybe it will turn into happiness if I keep saying that? This is real life at the Hummel’s!

20140410-073443.jpg

Don’t you think capturing the beauty of real life is important? I love seeing “the context of contentment” at Like Mother Like Daughter every week, so I thought I’d share mine today. Happy Spring!