Evening comes more swiftly now, and street lamps dot the misty corners of town. Can you hear the harsh crunch of maple leaves, smell the cloved oranges? A socially distanced autumn still has plenty of beauty to offer. All we have to do is seek it out.
Culture is a funny thing. It can make you chase bulls or hang up socks once a year, leave food at the cemetery or throw a tree. Nations have cemented certain customs that depict who they are as a people, and the sheer diversity of it all is breathtaking.
I’ve recently encountered the concept of family culture: the mix of rituals, rules, habits, and priorities unique to each household that creates a distinct group identity. Every family has one whether they try to or not. Now that Riley and I are parents of a three-month-old, we figured it would be a good time to sit down and hammer ours out, starting with the values we feel best reflect who we want to become together. Here are the results, along with some ideas for putting them into practice.
Does that make your soul groan, too, or is it just me?
I do a pretty good job most of the time guarding my eyes, ears, and thoughts from drama overload. (Being super picky about media intake will do that.) But as November 3rd looms, the cacophony is building, even for those of us who try to stay on the periphery. My big takeaway from watching as a political outsider: the world needs Jesus. In a culture that’s growing increasingly mean-spirited, do you know what would be bold, rebellious, and shocking? Kindness.
Call me nerdy, but I just love a good schedule. Give me some stickers, colored pens, and a blank calendar, and I’m a kid at Christmas. There is so much calm in the regular rhythm of planning—a chance to exert order and beauty and life over the chaos of time that doesn’t yet exist, an opportunity to mold the moments that make up whole seasons with purpose. Looking forward in anticipation is my jam.
Then there are the days that call for looking back. Because hindsight is 20/20, this practice provides perspective so I don’t rush from one experience to the next in an unending string of random events. When I sit down and quiet myself, God shows me what He’s been up to in the middle of, in the white space around, and in the interruptions to my beloved plans.
It’s easy to think of the Bible like a little old lady in her church clothes—prim, proper, and very straight-laced. But when you flip the pages past Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, you find a book that will induce more pearl-clutching than a steamy romance novel. According to Matthew Henry’s commentary, “The Jewish doctors advised their young people not to read it till they were thirty years old.” Admittedly, Solomon uses some archaic descriptions (breasts like fawns of a gazelle… what?), but once you dig into context and interpretation, you’ll find that God is less embarrassed by sex than many of His children are.
“Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forth, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, honor, and cherish, til death do you part?…”
“Wait, I wasn’t finished. And do you promise to fight fair with him on the countless occasions you two will disagree?”
If you’ve ever been on a great vacation, you probably know that touring tends to awaken the appetite. Luckily, we’re approaching the one place you’ll never go hungry: Paris. John 6 is very much like the City of Light in its abundance of food. The chapter is sandwiched (ha) with bread, beginning with the feeding of the five thousand and ending with Jesus’ discourse on being the bread of life. (An amazing, but not necessarily food-related, miracle story is tucked in the middle.)
Looking back at how I’ve introduced September’s favorite things posts in the past, you might notice that this month is one of my most treasured times—school is starting up, autumn comes flouncing in with her glorious smells and tastes, and those trees! But this year, everything feels different.
Can we all just agree that the world is a dumpster fire right now? 2020: zero stars, do not recommend.
Cartography doesn’t exactly have the sexiest ring to it when it comes to vocations, but if you think about how crazy mapping out uncharted territory must be, the job smacks of adventure. A lake bends just here; and mountains sweep along to this side, extending to the forest. Because of cartographers and their pioneering work, explorers who come after them have an easier go of navigating the terrain.
Becoming a CF mama* has made me wish someone could hand me a map marked out with the landscape I’ll be expected to traverse. Knowing precisely where the quicksand of despair, the cliffs of exhaustion, and the high hills of holy hope are located would definitely make things easier, but this life doesn’t come with a map.