Lazy friendship marriage

Lazy friendship marriage--it's so easy to slip into.  You're extra tired after an especially hard few weeks at work, and you turn out the lights with a quick peck on the lips.  Your dinner conversation becomes all about calendars and kids' schedules and home maintenance.  When you do have a few free moments together, you sink in front of the TV or schedule one of the appointments you have been putting off because it is so hard for you both to find the time.

You're a great team, fantastic roommates, awesome business partners.

But a marriage?  Where did you, the husband and wife, go?

I could talk about all sorts of ways that our daughter's sudden arrival made our marriage stronger, but the quick and easy response is that we started going on dates again.  We put the babysitter on the calendar, and we prioritized our marriage.

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Favorite finds

Every so often, I like to share some of my favorite discoveries that I think others may also enjoy.  Please chime in with your favorites!

1.  Library extension for Amazon

Did you know that you can check if your library has a book every time you find a book on Amazon?  I find it much easier to search for titles on Amazon than on my library's interface, and I love seeing at a glance if a book is available.  I know I read more broadly and save more money because of this genius app!

2.  Switched at Birth and The Fosters

Both of these shows are from the Freeform network and have clear agendas, but I don't care.  I'm enjoying streaming them on Netflix and being entertained while learning a little something new.  Switched at Birth debunks some myths about deafness, and The Fosters examines the foster system (Dan and I of course resonate greatly with the latter).  

 

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Saturated

I have noticed a trend lately in my media consumption, and I am not thrilled.  My Kindle has begun filling up so much that I forget which books I am currently reading.  I will overfill my Buffer queue (Buffer is a social media scheduling service that I use so I do not bombard everyone with ten articles in a single half hour span) and run out of time slots in my free account.  The number of unplayed podcasts I have on my phone overwhelms me.  This is too much media, I am realizing.  I cannot possibly absorb and digest it all.

Don't get me wrong: I love how easy it is to learn about nearly any imaginable topic now, thanks to the internet.  Everyone dabbles because we can.  We are all jacks of all trades, but, I would also argue, many of us are masters of none.  We can go broad with the click of a mouse or swipe of our finger but rarely do we go deep.  My book club recently read The Shallows, and although I have some criticisms, I found myself nodding in agreement with the author's central argument: We consume so much so quickly now that our brains are forgetting how to think critically and sustainedly.  I keep pushing myself to take in more, more, more so that I will become "smarter," but is more necessarily better?  

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Funny things that I do now that I have a kid

Certain changes I anticipated when I had a child: I have wipes stashed on every floor and in every car, I always carry several snacks with me, and my daily word count totals at least twice what it was in my pre-kid days.  But other shifts in my behavior I did not expect.  In fact, some of them run completely contrary to the pictures our culture paints of parenthood.  For instance:

1.  I read more now.

While my book count certainly approaches nowhere near what it did during my college and graduate school career, I read more books than I did before having children.  I am stuck waiting much more often now in carpool drop-offs, sporting events, and appointments.  In these awkward pockets of time, I try to read a few pages on my Kindle app rather than clicking through my social media feeds.  While I know that my daughter does not know whether I am reading on my phone or bouncing between click bait articles, I know, and I am more self-conscious about how I am spending my downtime.

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Books that changed the way I see the world

I am an unapologetic book lover.  I remember going to the library as a child and carrying a huge stack of books home.  I knew the checkout limit (It was thirty-two books).  Perhaps it is because I am an introvert, and I love how reading allows me to be alone but still engaged, or perhaps it is because I savor silence, but books hold an important place in my life.  

I try to track books here, but some reads are admittedly better than others.  I am hard pressed to name my favorite books, but I can think of some books that changed how I approach the world.  New worlds open up to me as I take in different voices and perspectives.  These are not necessarily the best books that I have ever read, but they touched me on a very personal level.  Here are eight titles (arranged chronologically, from the book I first read to my most recent find):

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This Lent I am praying for my enemies

Enemies.  I have always found that word to be strange.  Extreme.  Something with which I cannot really identify.  After all, I am a fortunate, upper middle class, well educated white woman who feels safe and well cared for most of the time.  With the exception of my gender, I otherwise belong to our culture's dominant and powerful groups.  Who am I to have enemies?  I am not threatened or mistreated or abused.

So when I would hear Jesus calling for us to love our enemies, I never really got it on a visceral level.  Cerebrally, I knew his message was challenging and counterintuitive and unpalatable.  It seemed fitting for his followers in the dangerous first century world of oppressive Roman rule or my neighbors on the other side of the world or fellow Americans who are part of minority groups.  But it did not seem to apply to me.  

As I have gotten older, however, I have become agitated more easily.  I thought most people mellowed with age, but such does not seem to be true in my case.  

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How and why to listen to podcasts

Because I am such a podcast junkie, I often forget that many people still do not know what exactly podcasts are or how to find them.  A podcast is most like a radio show, except that it is available on demand.  Podcast creators publish new episodes which can be downloaded or streamed on the internet or your smartphone or tablet.  You never need to worry about tuning in at a particular time to hear a show; the latest episodes are waiting for you when you are ready.

Podcasts are of course great for long car trips, but they also help pass the time when you are folding laundry, cleaning, or doing other tasks that require your hands and eyes but not much brainpower.  Podcasts cover nearly every topic nowadays, and even popular radio shows like NPR's This American Life and Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me are also available in podcast form.

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Why I love my Kindle so much

In the past couple of years, the amount of reading I have done on my Kindle has increased tenfold.  While there have been studies and vehement opinions arguing that paper is preferable to digital, I think e-readers have their place.  I will be quick to acknowledge the cons: I do not think I retain information as well on e-readers because part of how I digest and remember is through marking texts up and remembering the actual placement of words on a page.  I will admit that there is something about the physical experience of turning a page and inhaling the scent of a freshly printed book or an ancient hardback bearing years of history.

But.

The convenience of my Kindle is hard to beat (and I do mean Kindle, not just any e-reader.  When I compare my experience to friends who have other types of e-readers, I think the Kindle wins by a landslide).

 

Here are the reasons why I find myself reading so much more often:

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It's always the same five things

I have mentioned it only in passing on the blog, but I began as vicar of St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Ivy last October, which means that I preach every week. I knew that it would stretch me to have to produce something new weekly, but I was not too worried.  Preaching plays to many of my introvert strengths: I like the alone time required for preparation, and I enjoy (and prefer) larger groups of people when I am speaking about a passion or special interest of mine.  Still, I knew it would stretch me, and it has.  

I have heard it said that every preacher only has about five sermons in her, and there is much truth to that.  We all tend to revisit the same themes over and over again, and we bring our own biases and lenses to the table.  My five are not necessarily the same as someone else's five, but we all have our default approaches.  When I preached once or twice a month, I could more easily come up with a fresh take, but now I am keenly aware of my predispositions.  There is not a way around it, nor is it bad; it just is what it is.

This is not only true of preaching, though: it's life.

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