Weekend Daybook: the first of 2019 edition

Seven days of collecting what I've been up to lately: places, people, books, podcasts, music, links & more for your weekend downtime.

(1) photo from this month

January walk at St. Mary’s by the Sea in Black Rock (Bridgeport)

January walk at St. Mary’s by the Sea in Black Rock (Bridgeport)


(2) links to celebrate MLK’s birthday

  1. Martin Luther King, Jr. – His Prophetic Faith in 15 Quotes via Englewood Review of Books

  2. Martin Luther King, Jr. – In His Own Words [Video] via Englewood Review of Books


(3) new blog posts from this week

  1. Epiphany 1: Baptism of the Lord (Look, Listen, Read, Pray, and Do to remember our own baptism in the belovedness of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.)

  2. 7 Literary Books Our Church Read Together in 2018 {Apostles Reads} (From the true and devastating accounts of one lawyer’s campaign to free the wrongfully imprisoned in Just Mercy to the bittersweet fictional tale of a lonely college rad roaming the streets of Chicago with a basketball and a fantastical pet dog in Chicago to the relentlessly shocking characters in Flannery O’Connor’s deep South and more, this little reading community has responded to each title with grace, humility, empathy, and intellectual curiosity. I’m honored to be among them.)

  3. What I Read October - December {From the Book Pile 2018} (Hope you enjoy these micro reviews!)


(4) photos from Kendra’s UNT graduation!

In mid-December we drove (!) to Denton, TX to celebrate Kendra’s graduation from University of North Texas. We rented a mini-van in order to take Natalie the rest of her belongings we still had stored in a closet and to bring back all of Kendra’s belongings from her college life. I’ve come to understand that about 70 % of parenting is figuring out how to keep track of everyone’s stuff.

We rented an Airbnb in Denton so all the kids could crash together with us for the weekend. On Friday we celebrated a belated 21st birthday party with Natalie (more on that another time), on Sunday we celebrated Christmas (another bonus for driving - presents!), but Saturday was all about KENDRA. She persevered through some pretty tough circumstances to make it to this day (as do most college students, I imagine) and we wanted her to know we were so proud of her accomplishment. I helped Alex prepare pots of his famous chili recipe so that a bunch of Kendra’s amazing friends from the past four and a half years could come to the rental house and celebrate with us. It was pretty much perfect (including my obligatory ceremonial cry).


(5) links (that I’ve paid attention to) re: about the border crisis

  1. Advent, Caravans, and Engaging Their Humanity by Rev. Michael Jarrett via The Diocese of Churches For the Sake of Others ("I think one of the countless gifts our Lord gives us is a renewal of our faculty to care.")

  2. Phoenix-area families opening their homes to migrants released by ICE by Griselda Zetino via KTAR News ("“They’re here to help serve food or help distribute clothing,” he said. “But as they get a chance to meet the people and see the people, by the end of the evening they’re stepping up and saying ‘Hey, I’m willing to take somebody home with me.’”)

  3. Trump’s Border Wall Prototypes Are Minimalist Art — and Should Be a National Monument via New York Magazine (Artist Christoph Büchel saw the prototypes for President Trump’s border wall, and proposed that they be made a national monument — a concept several critics dismissed as trolling. But New York’s Senior Art Critic Jerry Saltz begs to differ; the monuments, he says, are “perfect minimalist sculpture.”)

  4. Maria Rivas and Emily via StoryCorps (“Im terrified of missing you growing up.”)

  5. Retirees and Refugees: How 93-year-old Julia Allen builds community through ESL (“Their long-term goal is to help 11 elderly refugee participants pass the naturalization test that they must take within seven years of being granted entry to the U.S. — if they hope to access social services.”)


(6) photos from Christmas in Texas with our kids!

We managed to fill the mini-van with presents, some of our Christmas decorations, and some of the pots and pans we use for our favorite traditional recipes. Have Christmas, will travel!

  1. Our “Christmas” morning nativity story on the back porch in Texas farmland.

  2. One of the favorite gifts for our teacher son who sees Fred Rogers as an icon for the classroom.

  3. My friend Jen felted these little HP ornaments FROM SCRATCH to give to our kids.

  4. Brian surprised me with the incredibly thoughtful gift of asking our friend Monica to add to the set of Christmas stockings I’ve had since I was a little girl. She also cleaned up the old stockings which were singed in our New Year’s Eve 2002 house fire. Can you tell which stockings are the old ones?

  5. Some of our favorite Christmas Eve tastes and smells.

  6. This 28-year-old, handmade (by my sister-in-law, JoAnn) Nativity set deserved to be carried along on this Christmas pilgrimage after surviving all those years we’d never heard of unbreakable nativity figurines and let our little kids handle them while we scolded and read them the Bible.


(7) blog posts from this week in the archives

  1. 2018 - Encountering Christ in a D.C. Suburb {Walking Epiphany 2018 series} (As a former youth leader, I hope it's okay to say I am so proud of the woman Glorya has become, and I wish I could have heard her Neighborhood Honor Contract idea when my kids were younger!)

    You can see more from this series that published this time of the year: Rio Grande Valley & University of Notre Dame)

  2. 2017 - A Few More Words About the Hole in Wendell Berry’s Gospel (As I’ve been given the gift to reconsider my essay, I’ve been able to gain clarity what I’m hoping to say in response to those who wish to follow his ideals.)

  3. 2016 - A Season of Abundant Celebrations, part 5 {pretty, funny, happy, real series} (Thanks to outrageous generosity by our Christ Church friends and neighbors who helped provide beds, vehicles, and even entire houses, we were able to let the Wedding feasting last a whole week (sort of like the old Jewish customs, maybe?))

  4. 2011 - Dismantling the Family Enterprise (Ten of us cousins snarled up together at every church meeting, every family celebration, every summer picnic.  Some might have seen the perfect opportunity for legendary whiffle ball tournaments, starry-night manhunt sessions.  Not I.  I saw the ideal set-up for creative productions.)

  5. 2010 - I Surrender (A painting that changed my life and helped me forgive.)

  6. 2009 - Making Moments {Disciplines for the Inner Life series} (In my past I would have shot straight toward the Grand Plan to Cheer Up this Friend. I just happen to be out of grand plans when it comes to relationships. So I stood and gazed and nodded. We prayed together. And, like a small thought, a small idea, during the final sentence of prayer it occurred to me. "We're going to Subway. Do you want to join us?" )

  7. 2009 - Solitude {Disciplines for the Inner Life Series} (For, perhaps the first time in my life, I began to understand that God's rescue at noon and at night might possibly look like me laying in my bathrobe, propped up on pillows, kept company by a box of tissues and my journal. It was not pretty like an extreme close-up of a pink, tear-stained face at the end of a movie, but I'm quite certain that if I could have seen into the spiritual realm that afternoon I might have been able to see a ten thousand demons fallen by my side and a thousand at my right hand. I had made it through the day.)

6 years ago

Visiting home and enjoying time with my sister and pre-born niece, Ellie.


May your weekend include some time at home and some time with friends that welcome your tears as well as your laughter. Peace...

p.s. This post may contain 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!

On the Sixth Day of Christmas: She Cooked A Christmas Meal That Made Me Feel Like Family & 5 Other Stories

My Christmas daybook for these 12 days of celebrating. We'll be spending Christmastide with some favorite short films and video clips. Join me, won't you? 

For an introduction read this post: Christmastide.

Note: If you're reading this in email, the formatting usually looks much better at the website. Just click the post title to get there.


 

Yelitza Castro makes the homeless men and women she cooks for feel like family. At StoryCorps, Yelitza spoke with her friend, Willie Davis, about the Christmas meal she cooked for him when he was homeless and how those meals changed his life.

The “stranger at the door” motif pervades Christmas folklore and, I imagine, is rooted in the crew of unknown friends who showed up at the manger and, later, at Mary and Joseph’s home. I hope you enjoy today’s stories, and please let me know if you have any of your own!

Watch:

  1. She cooked a Christmas meal that made me feel like family, StoryCorps

  2. A Christmas Memory About A Stolen Bike and An Unexpected Lesson About Generosity, StoryCorps

  3. Love Thy Neighbor, The Perennial Plate

  4. Rent A Family For the Holidays, CBS Sunday Morning

  5. The Greatest Gift, CBS Sunday Morning

  6. Giving Strangers A Christmas Morning, Mark Gagnon


Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
— Book of Common Prayer, Collect for First Sunday After Christmas

Do:

Extend your family

[from my 2012 post 12 Ways to Savor the 12 Days of Christmas]

“ The last two years we've missed our extended family something terrible at Christmas. We're hoping that will change in 2013; at the same time we're glad we've had the opportunity to experience Christmas without family nearby.  With twelve whole days to celebrate, we enjoyed spending a few of them with other people who were alone.”


(See all Christmas Daybook posts from 2017 here.)

8 things I learned this summer

Nephews sunset swimming during our annual  Hill family vacation  on Canandaigua Lake, NY.

Nephews sunset swimming during our annual Hill family vacation on Canandaigua Lake, NY.

 

1. Staycations are a great solution (& Jones Beach was better than I expected). 

Since our kids have begun to leave home and our subsequent move to Connecticut, we've been exploring new rhythms of being together. Our kids are still in that transient stage of college and post-college years so I think we'll be figuring this out for a while. We don't need destiny vacations or travel-brochure excursions; just finding times to be together under one roof for a few days and nights is a major feat! In July we flew our kids to Connecticut to spend a week together, and we had a really, really good time. I'm kind of a fan of staycations anyway (I've noticed some bloggers refer to this practice as being a "hometown tourist") and we've got a long way to go to discover all the wonderful places to enjoy here in Connecticut. 

2. Ice cream stands in Fairfield County & Ferris Acres Creamery in Newtown, CT

We love the good, old-fashioned, seasonal ice cream stands scattered throughout the Northeast, and think we may have found our new favorite, thanks to our friend Amy's advice.

3. Working together with Brian - using our individual gifts and callings - is a dream come true.

In the abundant grace of God, we were invited to facilitate a couple of days of debrief for a group of Mexican and American staff championing students in the small fishing village of Chiquila, Mexico. While they worked in the rugged beauty of rural Mexico all summer, we only went as far as Cancun to meet with them which felt a little bit like cheating. We did our best to see the work through their stories, hearts, and - thanks to the help of a skilled and generous interpreter- their native language.

My heart for the work of Hands Offering Hope grew three times larger. As did my heart for my husband and to the Good Shepherd who kindly leads us to the people and places that make us more like Christ and more like our truest selves. To be able to combine our pastoral, spiritual direction, global community development, and organizational leadership passions and skills was life-giving for us, and, hopefully for those we served. My heart is full - like the liturgy we pray each week - with “gladness and singleness of heart”.

We took very few, and mostly poor photos, but here’s a glimpse.

August.Cancun edited 10.jpg

 

4. When I most need comfort is often when I'm least able to ask for it.

I've mentioned a few times that this has been an emotionally challenging season and that I'm learning how to navigate it with integrity and gentleness. On a couple of occasions in the past year, especially, I've experienced an intensity of anxiety that I haven't for many years. Brian has walked next to me through these experiences with so much gentleness even when my reflex is to push him away. I've learned that, among other important strategies for caring for my body and soul preventively, what I most need when my anxiety is hitting the fan is physical soothing. Now, rather than the anxiety coming between Brian and me (because often I can't quite tell what's set me off, and sometimes I point it at Brian), I ask him to just give me a hug. That's it. There are a time and a place for me to talk through and reflect on what's bothering me, but it usually isn't in the heat of the moment. This is not revolutionary and maybe the rest of the world has figured this out, but for some reason, it's taken us almost 28 years of marriage to understand the soothing power of a hug.

5. Why we live in Bridgeport, CT (aka, "Who the [flip] goes to Bridgeport?")

After a year renting a house in a more traditional neighborhood in Fairfield, we made the decision last summer to move into an apartment complex in Bridgeport, an area of Fairfield County - which includes nationally-coveted properties in Greenwich and Westport - that is an unconventional choice for several reasons including crime and blight. This move surprised a few of our friends and church community and I've been trying to figure out the best way to explain to myself and others why we made this choice. I'll share more in an upcoming post, but I've been grateful for the people who've asked us questions because each time helps me articulate better to myself why we're glad to live here. 

In related news: Brian and I just discovered an Amazon original series set in Bridgeport and Trumbull, CT. If you don't mind the language, here's a scene that made us laugh out loud: Who the [flip] goes to Bridgeport?!?

6. Voxer is pretty great and so are my sisters.

In the past, I've tried to stay up to date with my sisters lives through Skype sessions, but we find it harder to pick a time that worked for all of us. There's a ten-year age gap between us and our seasons of life are not in sync. My sister Alicia suggested we use the Voxer app and, while I'd used it sporadically with various friends, I didn't quite understand the way it worked. It's been the perfect solution for us to stay in touch with each other in real time. When one of us has a question or a story or an insight we want to share we record a brief (and sometimes not so brief) message on our thread and the then listen and respond as we're able. I need my sisters and value their friendship and insights so this is the perfect solution for us right now. 

7. I can live (for a limited time at least) with two dogs.

When Kendra made plans to spend two months with us this summer, she asked if she could bring her beloved pit/lab, Juliet. Have I mentioned I'm not a pet person? We've had Leo since 2013 and Duchess for about five years before that. That's because I like my husband better when he has a dog. Also, we live in a loft apartment with very few separate spaces and I couldn't imagine what it would be like to have TWO furry, smelly, occasionally raucous creatures in our space. But we gave it a try, and it wasn't too bad. The dogs played together non-stop which was sometimes cute and other times annoying. In the end, I survived and it was totally worth it to have Kendra here with us.

 

8. Rule of Life is not the end of the world

As part of my training to become certified as a Spiritual Director I've been tasked with writing a Rule of Life. If you've never heard about this practice, developed first in early Christian monastic communities, is a holistic description of the regular, intentional practices we engage to live out our life's calling. As a recovering "to do" list addict, I've spent approximately ten years avoiding the sort of lists that I could never quite match between my ideals and my current realities. This assignment has been hard for me. Really hard. A gentle nudge from my supervisor (and some helpful suggestions from this site) helped me finally buckle down. I'm working with rough draft, hoping to orient myself toward God's invitations for my life rather than forcing outdated ideals on myself. Some of the time this has felt joyous and other times frustrating. My hope is to take God at his word that the work he calls us to is not burdensome and that, in some mysterious way, we can order our lives in the way of Christ's unforced rhythms of grace

I hope you are aware of the rhythms of grace you're being invited into at the start of a new season. I'm looking forward to showing up here again on the blog a couple of times a week - it's part of my Rule of Life!

A July afternoon with my Brother's family on Jones Beach, Long Island. 

A July afternoon with my Brother's family on Jones Beach, Long Island. 


How was your summer? What are your hopes for fall? Read any good books lately?

I love to hear from you! Let me know in a comment or any of the following places:

Instagram

Facebook

Email

Peace, friends.

Tamara

 

7 Eastertide quick takes

What I've been up to lately: places, people, books, podcasts, music, links & more for your weekend downtime.

(1) an update on our friend Christine Warner

I hope that most of you had the opportunity to read my explanation for changing up the normal posting series here during Eastertide. Our friend Christine Warner suffered a near-fatal accident that led us to enter to practice resurrection through deep intercession for her life to be spared and to be fully restored to wholeness.

God has heard our prayers for greater, persistent healing in Christine's body. We're still praying and invite you to join us. You can continue to follow updates at the Christ Church website. You can still contribute to the fund to assist the Warner family here.

Thanks be to God! Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah! 

P.S., Here's a sweet video Christine's eldest son created for her in honor of her birthday.


(2) photos from Easter Sunday

I managed to take a couple of photos, but was mostly busy being grateful that the weather was somewhat springlike!


(3) books I'm reading

I'm deep into certification coursework to become a Spiritual Director. I'm about halfway through with graduation slated for May 2019. It's taken about a year to wear this role with some degree of confidence and I feel like I'm beginning to move on more cylinders now. I'm finding the reading full, rich, and time-consuming. That's part of the reason I haven't updated my What I Read posts all year! I'm reading a lot, but it's being processed more internally. I imagine one of these days I'll start having many words to say about it all, but for now, here's a current favorite.

Screen Shot 2018-05-04 at 5.11.16 PM.png

 

  1. The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism by Bernard McGinn
  2. The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection by Robert Farrar Capon - During Eastertide our church's reading group (Apostles Reads) dove into one of my favorite food-as-theology books, and then shared warm discussion during a two-hour dinner party. You can read the review I wrote several years ago after I was first introduced to this classic.
  3. Mending the Divides: Creative Love In A Conflicted World by Jon Huckins and Jer Swigart - I recently contributed a feature review at Englewood Review of Books for this 2017 IVPress release. You can read my review here: The Abundance of Wholeness, Completeness, and Fullness - A Feature Review of Mending the Divides: Creative Love in a Conflicted World

(4) photos from our Easter Sunday road trip to Madeleine L'Engle's Connecticut home

Our plans to visit home fell through at the last minute so Brian drove me to Madeleine L’Engle’s house (her beloved Crosswicks in Goshen, CT). We saw her Congregational Church and the General store her family ran for a few years. We also found a delicious lunch in Litchfield.

It was a good day.


(5) music links for songs & albums I've had on repeat the past few months (in no particular order)

  1. Pretty much everything from Leon Bridges - like this performance on SNL and, especially, this music video for his gorgeous song River.
  2. Every single song and video released by The Porter's Gate Worship Project. You can hear the whole album here: Work Songs
  3. Sufjan Stevens' newly-released single Tonya Harding. I'm so glad I heard the song before we saw the movie, I, Tonya. It felt like a prayer I could carry into the theatre with me. I wrote about the song in a best-of-2017 post for Think Christian.
  4. Speaking of Think Christian, I feel like the writers have been hitting it out of the park with commentaries on new musical releases in the past year. For instance: Calexico's Thread That Keeps Us - Music Without Borders by Aarik Danielson,  4:44 - Hearing Jay-Z's Confession by Chad Ashby, Open Mike Eagle and 'Brick Body' Temples by Aarik Danielson
  5. On the worship music front I've been especially grateful lately for Andrew Peterson's Resurrection Letters and Sandra McCracken's Songs From the Valley and Steadfast Live. This song from Peterson, in particular has been on repeat since Easter. Our wonderful worship leader taught us this song last week, and I just keep listening to it.

(6) photos from our kid-visiting tour of Texas

We're keeping the tradition of visiting Texas in April. We were a bit late to see the bluebonnets at full peak, but enjoyed the sunshine all the same. We made it to Denton to see Kendra, Fort Worth to see the newlyweds (is 2 1/2 years still new?), and to Austin to see Andrew, and a Lego session with our godson Emmett. We managed to be there in time to catch Andrew's comedy gig with the Moontower festival (thanks to the friends who joined us!). We also got to visit Alex in his classroom and Kendra at her church. (Ask me sometime about how I made a grand entrance to Kendra's church by sprawling across the sidewalk in the most ungraceful fall ever. Eyeroll....) We even had enough time to catch up with a couple of friends and still sneak in a get-away for just the two of us. A good trip with people we love. 

Texas trip


(7) blog posts from the archives

2017 - 50 ways to Practice Resurrection during the 50 days of Eastertide ("Choose 1 idea or 50, but whatever you do, do it with gusto!")

2017 - Practice Resurrection 2017: send me your photos and captions! ("feasting is a discipline, too. We take in the good with gratitude and contentment without making an idol of the gifts. This requires us to depend on the Creator as much (maybe more so) as any other spiritual exercise.")

2016 - Practice Resurrection: Resist frenzy ("To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is in itself to succumb to the violence of our times.")

2015 - 7 quick photo takes from New Mexico trip ("7 New Mexico takes from the trip Brian and I took in March 2015. Spoiler alert:  New Mexico is beautiful.")

2013 - What I'm Into Lately, April 2013

2011 - Tuesday is for Hospitality: peace be with you (" I never set out to learn this lesson, it seems to be happening to me without even my permission, an unexpected new layer of healing what has been so deeply wounded in me.)

2007 - Livingpalm's Blog (Long, long ago back when this blog had a different name and we used clever nicknames for ourselves instead of our first names, Brian wrote a sweet post about me. I don't ever want to forget it.)

Also: Quietly passed by the twelfth anniversary of my First post ever - April 10, 2006.

NM.0.jpeg

3 years ago

 

 

 

 

 

That time when Brian and I made a snap decision to get away to a deserted mountain cabin in New Mexico to get our last breath before he graduated seminary.


May your week ahead include true, good, and beautiful things, friends!

SEE OTHER BLOGGERS' 7 QUICK TAKES POSTS HERE

7 Quick January Takes {weekend links}

What I've been up to lately: places, people, books, podcasts, music, links & more for your weekend downtime.

(1) Netflix series we binge-watched this week

Somebody Feed Phil

Fun, funny, fascinating, beautiful, occasionally tear-jerking - food, travel, human connections, and a really funny TV writer/producer (Everyone Loves Raymond) turned travel guide. Two thumbs up!


(2) short and sweet stories from my blog feed this week

StoryCorps

Dr. Weaver remembers integrating his high school football team in Knoxville, Tennessee  - It's hard to believe, and so good for us to hear. |  via StoryCorps

Two very curious brothers ask their Dad some outlandish questions - I also love this little audio peek into a relationship between a good Dad and his hilarious sons. 


(3) books I'm reading

Make A List: How A Simple Practice Can Change Our Lives and Open Our Hearts by Marilyn McEntyre - This great little book releases February 27, 2018. I was able to read a preview copy for the next Englewood Review of Books issue

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi - My Mom gave me this book ages ago, and I'm so glad to finally be reading it!

Chicago by Brian Doyle - This is the next title - for the season of Epiphanytide - we've chosen for our reading group at church (Apostles Reads).


(4) vintage winter nature books on my wish list


(5) links in honor of MLK Day

Martin Luther King, Jr - Reading ListThere have been hundreds of books about MLK published in recent decades. Here are some of the best of them. via Englewood Review of Books

Martin Luther King, Jr. – His Prophetic Faith in 15 Quotes - Mainstream American culture tends to have a narrow view of King’s work, limited primarily to his leadership in the Civil Rights movement. However, King’s vision was rooted in the desire for a beloved community in which not only were all people equal but in which all violence, poverty, and injustice were abolished — a vision that flowed from King’s deep faith in the life and teachings of Jesus. | via Englewood Review of Books

Frederick Douglas, American - An excerpt adapted from a speech delivered at Hillsdale College on May 12, 2017, at the dedication of a statue of Frederick Douglass on the College’s Liberty Walk. | via Imprimis

MLK speeches and songs - An excellent collection of links to speeches, music, poems and reflections in honor of Dr. King. | via Global Christian Worship

Embracing the Whole Martin Luther King Jr by Bill Wiser - "As we remember his Dream, let's not fail the man or his message. Only by realizing the gravity of our position and making those hard, but liberating choices can we truly honor The Dream and march beyond it as Martin Luther King did." | via Plough


(6) photos from Christmas with our kids



May your week ahead include true, good, and beautiful things, friends!

SEE OTHER BLOGGERS' 7 QUICK TAKES POSTS  HERE .

SEE OTHER BLOGGERS' 7 QUICK TAKES POSTS HERE.