Have a great weekend, friends.

What I've been up to lately...

 

1 podcast I enjoyed

On Being with Krista Tippett: Glenn Beck. Woah. She's not messing around with this whole Civil Conversations Project


2 places we visited

Believe it or not, Brian and I spent several days in Southern California this past week for an Anglican conference, and I didn't take one single photo to share! Here's a few other places we enjoyed...

A good man from our church gave us the work VIP tickets he couldn't use. The Yanks lost, but we loved our time anyway!

A good man from our church gave us the work VIP tickets he couldn't use. The Yanks lost, but we loved our time anyway!

For Mother's Day, I asked my family to kit me out for a summer full of beach days. Here's my first time out with the new beach chair and umbrella. 

For Mother's Day, I asked my family to kit me out for a summer full of beach days. Here's my first time out with the new beach chair and umbrella. 



4 links I loved

Summer Reading Guide 2017. I'm trying to catch up on all the un-read books on my shelves instead of following a themed reading list this year, but I can't ignore these great suggestions for summer reads. | via Modern Mrs. Darcy

Bring Back the Sabbath. Maybe if the NY Times tells us to do it, church people will pay attention? | via The New York Times Magazine

Parents: Prepare Your Children For Missions, Even When It's Risky.  This was a great reminder: "I will have to balance my desire to keep them safe and to let them risk all for the sake of Christ and his gospel." | via IMB

Fifty Things About My Mother. What a sweet, sweet post. Someday I may try my hand at a list like this. For now, I have this poem I wrote for my mom a few years ago. | via Slate


5 posts from this week in the archives

2016 - We're moving: a stream-of-consciousness reflection 

2013 - We are the Pentecost-ed (on the loss of our dear friend Dick Chote)

2009 - Confession [disciplines for the inner life] - part 1 & part 2

2008 - Pick your own metaphor (the horse-bee-angels who helped us move in 2008)

2012

Moving in May is a semi-regular occurrence for us (5 times since 2008). Here's the Christ Church Austin crew that helped us in 2012. Gosh, I loved that house.


May your weekend include sunshine, beauty and a good laugh, friends. Peace...

p.s. This post contains affiliate links because I'm trying to be a good steward, and when you buy something through one of these links you don't pay more money, but in some magical twist of capitalism we get a little pocket change. Thanks!

More of your Practice Resurrection photo stories [2017, vol.3]

As we head toward the Feast of Pentecost, will you join me in feasting on Resurrection goodness in our everyday lives?

PR.FB banner.png

I'm still enjoying the beautiful photo stories you've shared about the ways you've been able to practice resurrection. Each one represents a moment (or more) you've made, in the words of Eugene Peterson, "the deliberate decision to believe in and participate in resurrection life."  Thank you for welcoming us to celebrate these moments with you, friends.

Here's a list I made to help us stay present to the celebration of Eastertide: 50 ways to Practice Resurrection during the 50 days of Eastertide. Whether you use one of these ideas or something else entirely, I'd love to hear about it! (See the bottom of the post for several options for sharing your photos and captions with me.)

Now on to this week's stories!


 
Tears flow when I look at this picture. Tears because I love these students and tears because I never stop being amazed that my Heavenly Father has allowed me the privilege of knowing so many beautiful immigrants and refugees. [Countries represented: Brazil, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, India, Haiti, Iraq, Turkey, Ukraine, Kurdistan, Lebanon.]
— Nancy Hill, Johnson City, NY
 

 
The wolf will live with the lamb (Is.11:6)

Garlic can be as dangerous as a wolf and strawberries can be as sweet as a lamb.
— Walter Wittwer, Norwalk, CT
 

Read some more of The story of grief, community and healing that sharon's shared with us a couple of years ago.

Read some more of The story of grief, community and healing that sharon's shared with us a couple of years ago.

 
The story of piano lessons years ago is in the picture. My sister was my first piano teacher. I was a horrid student, but now we have fun when we get the chance to play duets together!
— Sharon O'Connor, Johnson City, NY
 

 
Celebrating friendship, freedom and the practice of feasting with Jesus.
— Megan Silver, Trumbull, CT
 

 
Call him Dr. Mann, the vet. A red-bellied woodpecker ran into the window, fell into a bush, and Porter rescued it but laid it to rest because we thought it was dead. It miraculously came back to life and Porter has been working on its rehabilitation all day! It has made it up the tree and is resting
— Karin Mann, Endwell, NY
 

 
Hiking at Bastrop State Park. First time since the fire. Still signs of the devastation but also lots of growth.
— Jim Janknegt, Elgin, TX
 

 
Chopin, Vermouth, and a little lemon to match the sunset.
— Kate Higdon, Austin, TX
 

 
Unprompted sibling love fest outside Mae’s classroom. Hoping that these are the memories that stay, as opposed to the slap-bite-scream fests that we also clock as a crew.
— Mindy Lloyd, Austin, TX
 

 
Trying to find a purpose for all those piles of dandelions that I’m given. #DandelionTea
— Amy Willers, Trumbull, CT
 

 
The tree was planted by my fairy godmother. She took the photo of it when it was young (over 50 years ago) and shared it with me again on my most recent visit in May. The photo sits on her vanity mirror where she enjoys it even as her sight declines. We always speak of the trees together and watch them grow.
— Jennifer Lind, a backyard in East Texas
 

 
In the days after our brother passed away, each of us began seeing butterflies in some of the most unpredictable, meaningful moments. Yesterday while on a quiet walk, I was texting with my brother’s wife... grieving together over our words... when I ran into this beauty. This reminder that has come to mean, for us, that we are never alone.
— Kim Akel, Austin, TX
 

 
That liturgical moment when you stoop down to cradle a ball of flame...and then the sparks from your Ascension day rocket themselves become the emblem of Pentecost’s descending tongues of fire - that!
— Malcolm Guite, Cambridgeshire, Cambridge, UK
 

Now it's your turn. Who wants to join us?

Three steps to contribute your photo story (after reading the Wendell Berry poem here).

1. Add something to your day that helps you practice resurrection (one day or fifty days doesn't matter).
2. Take a picture and write a description in 1-50 words. 
3. Share it with me via an emailFacebook, or Instagram (you can tag me with @asacramentallife or use the #PracticeResurrection2017 hashtag.) I'll share some of your photo-stories with everyone here each week

In what ways are you practicing resurrection this week?  I'd love to hear about it!

Your Practice Resurrection photo stories [2017, vol. 2]

For the next five weeks (from now until Pentecost), will you join me in feasting on Resurrection goodness in our everyday lives?

Sheep at Hill of Tara.jpg

I love the beautiful photo stories you've shared about the ways you've been able to practice resurrection the past couple of weeks. Each one represents a moment (or more) you've made, in the words of Eugene Peterson, "the deliberate decision to believe in and participate in resurrection life."  Thank you for welcoming us to celebrate these moments with you, friends.

Here's a list I made to help us stay present to the celebration of Eastertide: 50 ways to Practice Resurrection during the 50 days of Eastertide. Whether you use one of these ideas or something else entirely, I'd love to hear about it! (See the bottom of the post for several options for sharing your photos and captions with me.)

Now on to this week's stories!


go here To read about jen's lament of lydia's life and god's comfort  in her grief.

go here To read about jen's lament of lydia's life and god's comfort  in her grief.

 
Remembering our sweet Lydia who left us seven years ago today. Levi asked to make something special to take to the cemetery and chose painted stones. The words he wanted written (he really came up with them himself) echo our prayer - “Holy Christ, we love You and we love Lydia. We hope we get to see Lydia again.” I would only edit slightly to say because of the Christ we love (who we know loves Lydia too) we KNOW we will see her again.
— Jen Thompson, Burlington, VT

@Maplehurstgardens on IG

@Maplehurstgardens on IG

 
The ‘William Baffin’ rose around the vegetable garden is beginning to bloom. Also, I’ve discovered that neatly mulching my garden paths with straw may be the key to growing food: I actually want to be in this space now. Apparently I avoid garden chores when the space feels messy and overwhelming.

Yesterday, I:
• Planted out my marigold seedlings. I concentrated them in the beds where I’ll plant tomatoes.
• Planted a few nasturtium seedlings. I love ‘Salmon Gleam’.
• Potted up a new rose: an antique called ‘Gruss an Aachen.’
— Christie Purifoy at her 1880 farmhouse, Maplehurst, in Pennsylvania

@WirelessHogan on IG

@WirelessHogan on IG

 
Last week our daughter Shandíín really wanted to go kayaking for her birthday. But on her actual birthday it was raining. So today, in beautiful 80 degree weather, we took the family kayaking. It was a beautiful day on the Potomac. Creator Ahé’hee.
— Mark Charles, Washington, D.C.

 
The splendor of the King, clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
All the earth rejoice

He wraps himself in Light, and darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice
Trembles at His voice

HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD, SING WITH ME!
— Walter Wittwer, Norwalk, CT

 
Rainy days often inspire me to wear black. Today I decided to practice resurrection. Rain means life; that’s worth having hope. Life for not only pretty flowers, but plants and crops that give us sustenance
— Megan Silver, Trumbull, CT

 
There are some wonderful perks about living in Chapel Hill. Monday morning Sabbath Day walk - 63 degrees, Bolin Creek Trail, owls hooting in the woods.
— Steve Breedlove, Chapel Hill, NC

 
I want to practice redemption even in my odd moments and free hours.

Learning to make use of little bits and pieces, to glean scraps and make beautiful things, is one way to do that. A pincushion reminds of this wisdom. And these fabric yo-yos might become a pillow, or a bag, or a sweet hairpin, but for now they simply remind me not to be hasty in tossing something out.
— Bethany Hebbard, Austin, TX

 
This view is unique to Black Rock and I’m so grateful for it in every season, but especially Spring.
— Doran Wright, Bridgeport, CT

 
Love and peace, Bridgeport.
— Doran Wright, Bridgeport, CT

Now it's your turn. Who wants to join us?

Three steps to contribute your photo story (after reading the Wendell Berry poem here).

1. Add something to your day that helps you practice resurrection (one day or fifty days doesn't matter).
2. Take a picture and write a description in 1-50 words. 
3. Share it with me via an emailFacebook, or Instagram (you can tag me with @asacramentallife or use the #PracticeResurrection2017 hashtag.) I'll share some of your photo-stories with everyone here each week

In what ways are you practicing resurrection this week?  I'd love to hear about it!

S-Town's Limited Understanding of Empathy [sharing at Think Christian today]

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“John B McLemore lives in Shittown, Alabama.”

So read the subject line of the email that first caught the attention of This American Life producer Brian Reed and would become the seed for the podcast S-Town. Upon further engaging with McLemore, chief malcontent of Woodstock, Ala., Reed found himself navigating a maze of complicated characters, rumors of corruption, unrequited love, and a downward spiral of plot twists. For Christians, the podcast also functions as a complicated consideration of how to best love our neighbors.

The plot of S-Town is worthy of a Shakespearean tragedy. Yet Brian Reed is not Shakespeare, and his role in telling us the heartbreaking life story of a gifted but unhappy man encompasses more than theatricality. Through Reed’s ability to offer an empathetic ear to everyone he meets, we have the privilege of discovering unexpected beauty among the citizens and landscapes of a backwater community in the Bible Belt. Yet as Reed gets spun into the story as a character invested in the lives of the people he encounters, his empathy morphs into a voyeuristic pity, one that fails to intervene for the truest good of those he’s encountered.

A warning: spoilers lie ahead, including discussion of difficult details.

read the entire article at Think Christian


A little rambling about my struggle with words lately: 

There were moments listening to the 7 episodes of the new podcast S-Town that I could hardly stand to listen any longer. I’m still not sure I should have kept listening, but I’d made the mistake of motivating myself to go to the gym by saving my “binge-listening” for the treadmill and so I felt committed. Make no mistake: the producers of groundbreaking podcasts This American Life and Serial crafted yet another brilliant vehicle for irresistible storytelling, led this time by narrator Brian Reed. In the nature of much true crime genre, most threads of the account are left unresolved at the end. It wasn't really the unresolved threads that bothered me, but the conclusions reached from what I considered a truncated understanding of empathy.
The other reason I completed the podcast was because earlier in the episodes I was caught up in the unexpected beauty of the world that Brian Reed was painting for our imaginations. I could actually imagine the series as a Terrence Malick film. While I was feeling enthused about the overall arc of the storytelling, I told Josh, the editor I work with at Think Christian (who is a truly generous and skillful editor) that I'd write the piece. I only had one more episode/one more trip to the gym to hear the conclusion, and then I'd write something right away!
 The problem came when I listened to the final episode, and it was far darker than I'd expected and really got me into a head space of disturbing thoughts and feelings that took me a while to process. Time and lots and lots of words - first in my journal, and then in several written drafts before the piece could actually be appropriate for public viewing.
In short: I got triggered. I got triggered by difficult themes, but even more so by what felt to me like some glaring miscalculations by the podcast host and producers. I got tipped over by my own negative responses, and couldn't quite get upright again.
It's not that I'm incapable of watching/listening/reading/discussing difficult topics. It's actually been part of my healing process to be able to enter into my own experiences of trauma by entering into other painful stories (both true and fictional). I came to the conclusion that S-Town took me past my comfort zone not because of its themes, but because of the places I perceived it was not telling the truth. Mixed messages and double standards in drawing conclusions really, really irks me.
And I mean, really.
In an earlier draft of the critique, I managed to weave in some of my animosity of current political rhetoric. Something about the way abusers create euphemisms to justify the ways they hurt other people. So, add euphemisms to doubles standards, mixed messages, and covering up for predatory behavior with any sort of language that makes excuses for violating other people to the list of things that really set me off. I'm sure I'm not alone in that. I don't know all the reasons for this, although I have some pretty good hunches.
I was reminded, in my processing S-Town, that triggers don't have to become the kind of despair that weighs me down without relief, particularly if I am able to process the feelings with people I trust. In this case, I needed Brian (who'd listened to the podcast with me) and Josh (who helped me sort through my onslaught of words to get to the redemptive critique I most wanted to offer). I also needed time to process in quiet with my own self.  For someone who enjoys quiet moments of contemplation, I can really kick against it when my heart is feeling afraid and angry.
On Saturday night, two days before my final deadline to submit the piece (a deadline that had been graciously extended a couple of times because of my general struggle with the topic), Brian took me to Manhattan to hear a favorite band. It's the kind of band I need to hear live approximately once a year just to maintain my soul's well-being. Their songs are that beautiful. And Saturday night, they sounded as beautiful as ever (if not more so). The difference I experienced, though, was in the words they spoke. One band member, in particular, seemed especially weary. She referenced the current political climate in our nation, which was not a surprise, and something I completely understood. It felt though, like she was so frustrated by recent events that she could no longer offer any sort of eloquent response. The words she used were intended to sound warm, open, and encouraging, but came across to me as cynical, defensive and exhausted. I think she was trying to express empathy, but what it sounded like was weary apathy.
Another band member chose to offer his feelings through very few words, and all of them pointing us to the lyrics of the songs. He'd say "Everything I want to say I wrote into this song." And all of the songs were beautiful and powerfully true, even when they said hard things about hard themes.
I think we all get to have times, like my favorite band member, when we run out of words and just throw our hands up in the air and sputter. We need to hold each other up in those times, certainly. But the greater option, whenever we can muster it, is to offer something good, true, and beautiful. When we're in the angry, sputtering place we need to stand as close as possible to the  beauty-cultivators, and let them speak the words for all of us.
Thanks for listening to my little stream of consciousness ramble about triggers and anger and beauty. As always, I'd love to hear any of your own thoughts on the subject. Drop me a note when you're able.
Truth, goodness and beauty, friends,
Tamara

Mary Oliver poem. %22I Worried%22.png

Good Shepherd Sunday (Eastertide, 4): I shall not want

The celebration continues with the Great Fifty Days called Eastertide. Stay tuned for a variety of celebratory posts here on the blog!

The Good Shepherd by Julien Dupre (source)

The Good Shepherd by Julien Dupre (source)

For all the poetry I could have presented on the subject of Christ as the Good Shepherd who leads us by quiet streams and gives us peace in the valley of the shadow of death, these are the lyrics I couldn't stop thinking about this week.

May the peace of Christ and the comfort of all of His Spirit's leading, guiding and nurturing be yours today, friends.

I Shall Not Want by Audrey Assad (via Trinity Fellowship on YouTube)


Today's readings: Acts 2:42-47, Psalm 23, 1 Peter 2:19-25, John 10:1-10

Listen to my Eastertide playlist on Spotify:  Resurrection

The Collect for the Second Sunday of Easter:

O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people; Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
— Book of Common Prayer