What I'm Into {March 2014}

31 March 2014



You know how I promised I'd pay better attention this month? Yeah, well, I didn't. All the stress from last month's visa snafu bled into March, exacerbating some dormant anxiety issues I'd hoped would fade into mature adulthood. These last two months? Just really not very great.

But, BUT! There are so many things to look forward to, good things that are happening. And you know? I cling to this thought, this thread in the seam of everything. "The reality is Christ," Paul says. So I'll say it, too, and move into April with it stitched firmly on my heart. (You know, like the L & S monogrammed on Laverne and Shirley's sweaters. What? Did I take that too far?)

READING

Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey. Finally. Our book buying budget is woefully small, so when it went on sale for Nook & Kindle this week, I jumped. Sarah soothes and challenges at the same time. There are no clanging cymbals here. Clanging forks on the great, big table and a lot of tambourines, maybe. I'll be sure to give you the full lowdown when I'm finished.

Other books on rotation: Jesus Calling, Bread & Wine, Devotions for Lent, Gospel of John

WATCHING

Netflix is my favourite these days, so we're catching up with Homeland, Seasons 1 & 2 of Sherlock and Pokemon (well, that's the kids, but I overhear it A LOT). Oh, and thanks to Cocoa deciding Season 4 of Parks & Recreation looked super tasty, we'll soon be taking the walk of shame into the library and purchasing the 4-disc set. Treat yo'self, am I right? And I can't even talk about The Good Wife, yet.

LISTENING pretty much exclusively to my Lent Meditation playlist.

INTERNETTING

New York City apartment tour | Cup of Jo... I'm fascinated with (upper middle class) apartment life in big cities
In which the Spirit inhabits the praises of the people | Sarah Bessey
Christian College Solidifies Complementarian Stance | Christianity Today... related: Rachel Marie Stone's piece for the Religion News Service
A Thread Called Grace | Jonathan Merritt for Christianity Today
Stuck in the Middle with You | Sharideth Smith

THINGS I'M LOVING


  • You know your child is a Third Culture Kid when you receive the above text from her youth leader.
  • Buds in bloom.
  • The feeling you get two days after you purchase plane tickets back home for your sister's wedding when the initial shock of the cost of it wears off and all you care about know is that YOUR SISTER IS GETTING MARRIED!
  • Long walks/hikes/adventures with the family.
  • Coffee/Prosecco/Chocolate with friends (this never gets old).
  • Hearing something you worked so hard and long on is appreciated and making a difference.
  • Filling the fridge with good food.
  • M&Ms in the post (mail).
  • Remembering and grieving with old friends. There's a surprising fellowship in shared grief, for which I'm so thankful.
  • Slane in the rain.



SCRIPTURE

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: 
compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. 
Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. 
Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. 
And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. 
It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
Colossians 3:12-14 {MSG}

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Alright, that's a wrap. Tell me what you were into this month! And join the rest over at Leigh Kramer's place.

Four positives from my latest rejection

28 March 2014

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A few weeks ago I applied to be a contributor at an online magazine. It was kind of on a whim, and even though I didn't necessarily feel 100% suited to the intended subject matter, I went for it anyway. I was trying to try, as you know, and it seemed like it could be a possible avenue for growth, both in my writing and in my perspective.

As sometimes happens, I received that fated rejection letter today. In all honesty, I had forgotten about my application in the first place, and while I never like to get a rejection letter, I wasn't all the surprised.

I was, on the other hand, annoyed.

You see, I like to win. I like to be picked and I like to be noticed. In my senior year of college we had this assignment to put together our portfolios and resumes for future literary employment. My friend James and I had a friendly competition going and when his portfolio and resume got higher marks than mine did, I was livid. I went home, clicked on my computer for two days straight and arrived back in class with a victorious case of carpal tunnel syndrome and Mrs T's high praise. I didn't really care about the resume and it never got me that job in journalism (though it served me well when I eventually landed that coveted, ahem, secretarial position), but I wanted to be the best.

I'm annoyed I wasn't recognized, that I didn't win. But in the long run, it doesn't matter because I'm learning a few things about rejection.

1) Rejection will never happen if you never try. It's true. If you don't want to be rejected, don't try. Whew! That's a relief! However, never trying means always wondering what could've been. What's worse: if you never try, you'll never win, never get chosen, never hear "Yes! We want you!" I've heard that a few precious times, and it is worth the trying. It's even worth a few rejections. (Case in point: an online writing course said we should risk rejection and submit a guest post to writers we admire. So I emailed a blogger whose style and vision matched my own and just asked. She ran my story that very week. Trying sometimes works, ya'll!)

2) Rejection can clarify your calling. Did I want this opportunity? Yes, I did! I wanted to grow in my writing, I wanted to make a difference. And honestly, I wanted the exposure. But I didn't feel especially called to the vision they have for their site. I knew I could do the work, but I didn't feel passionate about it. Maybe this is just me trying to make myself feel better, but getting that rejection confirmed it wasn't the place for me. And it spurs me on to find the niche where I belong.

3) Rejection is hard for them, too. My rejectors felt really bad about it. They wanted to hug me, they said (another sign it wasn't the best place for me, as I super like my personal space). But with great power comes great responsibility, which sometimes means saying "No, I'm sorry. This isn't the place for you." To be the bearer of bad news is never fun and most of us don't like letting others down. Just because they rejected me doesn't mean I suck or that they're horrible. They're a good group of people, so I'll keep following their site; maybe even submit a piece or two. ;)

4) Rejection gets easier with time. No one gets rejected forever and I've had several great yesses! And though I hate not getting picked to play on so-and-so's team, I'll keep on trying out and showing up. Those rejection letters are a part of a writer's life. I think they're a part of everyone's life. There's no escaping them, so we might as well lean into them, learn the rules and play the game. Because when the yes comes? It makes up for every no that came before.


Do you find it hard to try for something you you're just not sure about? Or have you recently heard that dreaded "No?"

A Good Woman

23 March 2014

I have so much to say, and nothing at all; alternating long hours of speechlessness with a raging river of words. I think I will write about it long, good and hard someday soon. But for now, I'll say this:

One of the greatest influences of my life died this week. My mentor, teacher, ally and friend. Apart from my own mother, no other woman has impacted the trajectory of my life as much as she did. Probably unknowingly. Most definitely with humility. Always with extra measures of grace, mixed with a good bit of sassiness. And even though I know she is resting in her heart's Home, I am heartbroken. I can't imagine her not here.

She was a good woman. The very best. And I miss her so.

I'm sure I'll be back around soon enough. Life is wild as always. There's an American holiday to be planned and writing goals to work on and menu planning (always with the cooking?) to do. But for now I'm keeping a bit quiet, thinking a lot, crying in sudden jags, feeling so very far from home and all my old friends who knew and loved her like I did.

Eshet Chayil, Mrs T, woman of valour.

Rest in peace.

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Obituary is a terrible word. I hate to have to use it. So for my friends who grieve for Mrs T, rememberances and condolences can be left here.

Not So Great in the Valley {a guest post for Velvet Ashes}

19 March 2014



I'm very honoured to be contributing graphics and words at Velvet Ashes, a website for encouraging and connecting women who live and serve overseas. And when Danielle told me what they'd be focusing on this month - mental illness, depression and fear - I knew God had given me something to say, a chapter of my story to share, and I wrote it all out here. For you. Ok, and for me, too.
It was a beautiful moment. A triumph.

We stood on the platform waiting for our respective trains, buzzing from the evening’s festivities. Only three months after first arriving on the field, I had managed to clean myself up (leaving my normal mommy uniform of jeans and a Kansas Jayhawks t-shirt at home), get myself to the train and find my way through the city centre, guided by Georgian doors and the brisk, independent European gait. It was my coming-out party; or at least, it felt that way to me. My first act of service, volunteering at an esteemed lecture, diving deeper into the culture I wanted so desperately to understand.

Four hours later, my feet were killing me, but I felt alive. So alive, I knew what was coming.

“You’re doing so great, all of you,” my new friend and trusted colleague said to me. “How do feel about it, now that it’s been a few months? Do you feel like you’re doing great?”

“Yes,” I said, “I think it’s been really great. But I’m afraid,” I paused, uncertain of her response, but knowing my rhythms and the patterns that have followed me all my life.

“I’m afraid,” I began again, “I’m about to be not so great.”

Come visit us over at Velvet Ashes to continue reading... 

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!

17 March 2014



Saint Patrick's Day blessings upon you, friends!

We woke up to a sunny and mild day here, perfect for lounging in bed to an Irish music soundtrack. Paddy's Day here is like Fourth of July in the US, coupled with a dash of celtic mysticism, religious lore... and a LOT of partying.

Here's some Irish goodness to help you celebrate wherever you are!

BLOG POSTS
At Home in Ireland (my 31days series)
Five Favourite Irish Movies (and five more to see)
Sundays with the poets
A Discombobulated Day in the Life

BLOGGERS & WRITERS

BOOKS
Circle of Friends, by Maeve Binchy
Death of a Naturalist, Seamus Heaney
Dubliners, by James Joyce
How the Irish Saved Civilisation, by Thomas Cahill
PS, I Love You, by Cecilia Ahern
The Truth Commissioner, by David Park

SOUNDTRACK (what we're listening to today)
BellX1
Brian Houston
James Vincent McMorrow
Lisa Hannigan
Snow Patrol
The Cranberries / Dolores O'Riordan
The Swell Season / Glen Hansard
The Script
The Chieftans
The Frames
U2

Like everything around here, this list is nonexhaustive and limited to our iTunes account, browser feed and time constraints. If you're hanging around here, I'm sure you've got your own list of Irish goodies. Add yours in the comments below!

Dialing down the Easter playlist during Lent

11 March 2014



My friend Ann (you beautiful tropical fish) was kind enough to share my Easter Playlist post from last year. I'm a week behind on my Lenten activities, choosing this year to focus on just a couple of things to give up/put on (giving up? biscuits (cookies) / putting on? Devotions for Lent).

And I'm also dialing down my "Must-Have" Easter playlist. I wanted to choose just 20 songs to meditate on during this season, those that speak and stay with me, ones that challenge and lead me towards confession.

KAREN'S DIALED-DOWN EASTER PLAYLIST

1 John 1:7 / The Flint Hill Fellowship
Amazing Grace / Sufjan Stevens
Body And Wine / Jars Of Clay
City Of Sorrows / Fernando Ortega
Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy / Fernando Ortega
Creed / Rich Mullins
Hallowed / Jennifer Knapp & Phil Keaggy
He Will Come / Waterdeep
Holy, Holy, Holy / Sufjan Stevens
How Deep the Father's Love for Us / Wilder Adkins
Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet / Jars Of Clay
Less Like Scars / Sara Groves
My Deliverer / Rich Mullins
No Greater Love / The Flint Hill Fellowship
Roll Away Your Stone / Mumford & Sons
There Is A River / Jars Of Clay
This Too Shall Be Made Right / Derek Webb
Yahweh / U2
You Did Not Have A Home / Rich Mullins
You Did That For Me / Sara Groves




What I'm Into, which isn't much {February 2014}

03 March 2014


I honestly don't know what to say about February. There was very little reading, a LOT of netflix, and one significant social event. I'll play fast and loose with the details, but suffice it to say: I'm glad that's over! Bring on March!


READING

I'm over halfway through The Husband's Secret, by Liane Moriarty, after spending a cool six months on the library's waiting list. (You can take the girl out of support raising, frequent moving and penny-pinching, but you cannot take the "Oh, I just don't know if I can spend 8 euro on a paperback!" out of the girl. Sigh.) Though I'm not digging it as much as What Alice Forgot, it would be a fantastic spring break or beach read. Love the multitude of strong female characters, even if some of them are painted (or written) with a broad brush.

Yep, that's it. That's all I'm reading. On the other hand, Matt's been staying up late and GETTING UP EARLY (what?!) to read Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. I should ask him to give you a good review of that book... if he can ever finish it. He's absolutely entrenched in Bonhoeffer's life and ministry, postponing the last chapter because he just can't bring himself to read about his execution. Softie.

WATCHING

Let's see... Parks & Recreation has been fantastic therapy after the immigration debacle. Leslie Knope is simply one of the most fantastic characters ever written (or brought to life, by the brilliant Amy Poehler). I went back to the 2005 reboot of Doctor Who in solidarity with my friend Allison who is watching for the very first time.

As a family we're digging The Voice Ireland, but even that pales in comparison with the amazing, spectacular Lego Movie. I loved the return of villain Mugatu, I mean, Mr Business. I won't spoil anything for you, but lemme just say the moral of the story hit pretty close to home for Matt. And Jack. Ella, on the other hand, felt vindicated.

LISTENING TO

On my ipod: Phoenix's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix and James Vincent McMorrow's Post Tropical. (Also known as the answers to You Might Be A Gen-X Hipster If...)

LOVING

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A birthday lunch with Jack at Lemon and reading side by side in a city bookstore. This kid wrecks me with his awesomeness.

Middle of the Map Fest. I'm thrilled to say that MOTM Fest is back this year, sporting a fantastic line-up and making me so sad that we live so far away. I've introduced you to my future brother-in-law Nathan Reusch and his label The Record Machine, and once again he's behind the helm partnering with INK Magazine. If you're within a day's drive of Kansas City, please go enjoy all that the midwest has to offer in music (and film!). The festival starts April 3rd, multiple venues, Kansas City, MO.



A house full of friends and kids and dog for Jack's birthday. I felt immensely proud when, upon everyone exiting the house in the late bedtime hours, Jack informed me, "This was the best day of my life." #momwins

You've Got Mail on the telly on a Sunday afternoon.

Ella reading to Asher before bed.

Woman Writing by Pierre Bonnard, via Bo Fransson's tumblr


And finally, speaking of art: Conversations | Reconstructed. My good friend Stacey Covell is showing a multi-media art exhibit in Dublin. She was inspired by the idea of taking iconic poetry of the past, dissecting its words and themes, and reconstructing them into new works of literary art. As she's done this, other artists are joining in the conversation through each one's particular genre: paint, sculpture, graphic design, graffiti. I'm planning to be there, and if you're in town, so should you! The exhibit runs April 4-19 at The Culture Box, Temple Bar, Dublin. 



SCRIPTURE

This is a prayer for knowledge and insight that only can come from God.
Father, may they clearly know Your will and achieve the height and depth of spiritual wisdom and understanding. May their lives be a credit to You, Lord; and what’s more, may they continue to delight You by doing every good work and growing in the true knowledge that comes from being close to You. Strengthen them with Your infinite power, according to Your glorious might, so that they will have everything they need to hold on and endure hardship patiently and joyfully.
Colossians 1:9-11 (The Voice Translation)

That's it! February OUT. Lemme know what you've been reading, watching or listening to. And maybe especially, what are you really, truly loving?

Linking up with Leigh Kramer & What I'm Into.
 
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