the living room recommends.

*dusts off the blog*

United by Trillia Newbell and Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Two books on race, from very different perspectives–Mr. Coates writes for the Atlantic and is an atheist; Mrs. Newbell works for the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Both are brief, very important reads for anyone who is working through the tangles of race and culture in America.

Pass the Mic and Code Switch
Like the above books, but podcasts instead. Pass the Mic’s run by the Reformed African American Network, Code Switch is produced by NPR.

Onward by Russell Moore
Important for the American church as we’re losing political capitol, which Dr. Moore and I both argue is not really a bad thing.

Christ and Pop Culture
I will hammer on about this website until the day I die or it dies. Home to some of the best writing on faith and culture on the Internet.

Quick to Listen and The Calling
Two podcasts produced by Christianity Today. Quick to Listen is about hot topics in the news; The Calling is interviews with people who lead in the Church and sometimes their church.

Surprisingly Awesome
A podcast recommended to me by my friend Chris which takes seemingly boring topics and shows you how interesting and mind-blowing they are. The episode that hooked me is about the Chumbawumba song “Tubthumping.”

Not having “It’s Quiet Uptown” stuck in your head
I’ve had this song stuck in my head all week and I’ve been low-key sad as a result.

You Are What You Love
James K.A. Smith wrote these two really excellent books called Desiring the Kingdom and Imagining the Kingdom that are about how we’re formed by our habits and practices, and what Christian educators and churches can do to counteract the ways the world tries to shape us. The only thing is, those books are super-dense and pretty academic (he makes a lot of references to Kant and Wittgenstein, for example), so he wrote a more accessible, more application-heavy version called You Are What You Love and it’s so, so good.

Songs in ordinary time: Trinity Sunday.

All along the watchtowers of the walls around
The city of man, the jokers and thieves shout
The songs of their sacred temples
And we all muse that there must be some way out of here

And the Dancer still dances His threefold dance
While we are only specks in the eye of the universe
That He forms into one new Man and fills with His breath
Paradox, mystery, unexplainable ineffable light

One and one and one make one
While the rebels shatter and scatter like Babel

Songs in ordinary time: Pentecost.

If I still have any readers after not posting for almost six months, I’m going to try something and write a poem every Sunday from now until the Sunday before Advent, the space the church calls ordinary time. Let’s see how this goes.

“Take a deep breath,” he said,

“and think the phrase ‘Jesus is Lord’

while you do it.

 

“Inhale on ‘Jesus,’

pause on ‘is,’ and breathe out ‘Lord.’

And repeat that for five minutes,

every day, when you wake up

and before you go to sleep.”

 

This, offered as, if not a cure,

Then at least a brief reprieve from

The fear that took over my body–

 

And I breathe in Jesus

And I breathe out his kingdom

And in between I pause in the present tenseness

Of him

 

And somewhere in the breathing

The cry turns to song

Even if sometimes it’s still lament

2015 in review.

  1. In the first ten weeks of the year, I started a new job, turned 30, totaled my car, moved to a new place, and bought a new car. Nothing major or anything.
  2. Stag’s Head, where I have celebrated more birthdays than I care to think about, closed its doors, and I am still kind of upset about this.
  3. My church underwent quite a few changes this year–this is still not really a space where I feel like I can write about it in detail, but it’s been both a difficult and a beautiful year for all of us, I think. A lot of breaking happened, but a lot of healing happened, too, and quite a bit of rebuilding, and I am immensely grateful for what God has done and will continue to do.
  4. Visiting my friends Michael and Emily (and their kid) with our other friends Chris and Meagan in June.
  5. Getting to be the reader judge for the Tournament of Books!
  6. Watching the documentary The Drop Box with my roommate and crying through the whole thing. (It’s on Netflix, go watch it.)
  7. Getting to hang out with a bunch of my friends from grad school at various points through the year.
  8. Memorial Day festivities with my church.
  9. Learning how to be a cat person, thanks to my roommate bringing our cat Chandler home one day. Said cat also plays fetch, but only with bottle caps, which is both weird and freaking adorable.
  10. Speaking of Chandler, roomie also got me to watch Friends, which I somehow missed out on in the ’90s and ’00s.
  11. Attempting to drive down to Galveston to watch the fireworks on July 4th with Steph and her mom (it didn’t go quite as well as planned).
  12. Jurassic World, y’all.
  13. Not one, but two quote-alongs at the Alamo Drafthouse–one of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (with coconuts and inflatable swords!) and one of Serenity (with cap guns to shoot at Reavers).
  14. The duck army thing.
  15. The force of nature that is the musical Hamilton–I got a friend at church to listen to the cast recording so I could have someone besides the Internet to talk to about it, and I’m trying to get more people to listen to it so I’m not just venting at him all the time. (A friend went to New York and got to see it, and I am still immensely envious about it.)
  16. I had my first experience as a bridesmaid; that wedding was a blast.
  17. My friend Hannah and I got to go see the musical Once when it came through town!
  18. I sat in a counselor’s office a lot this year. One of the things he kept telling me is that I was strong and brave, and I think it finally hit me when I was alone one day while I took a week off (see #25) and I got washed over by such a wave of gratitude to God for giving me a lot of people who sustained me and for starting to heal me of a lot of stuff, and so I was ugly-crying and it was messy and glorious and wonderful. (Sorry for the run-on sentence.)
  19. I started sponsoring the excellent Christ and Pop Culture and as a result I got added to a super-secret group on Facebook, and quite honestly that’s one of two reasons why I’m even still on Facebook.
  20. Lots of watching Jimmy Fallon or random NBC dramas or chick flicks with my roommate.
  21. Sitting around with a bunch of other ladies–some old friends, some new–at my friend Steph’s birthday party. We ate tacos and talked about personality tests, which is a lot more entertaining than I’m making it sound.
  22. A handful of friends of mine went to be part of a church plant downtown and the church got written about in Houstonia, which blows my mind.
  23. I got to know a lot of friends’ dogs via housesitting this year…
  24. The week I took off of work in September during which I did almost nothing except read and watch Netflix, and it was glorious.
  25. I don’t know about y’all, but I’m tired of hearing about all the mass shootings–as in, let’s not let these keep happening.
  26. Also, can someone please just kidnap Donald Trump and drop him in the middle of Uzbekistan or something?
  27. I hung out with my extended family a couple of days after Christmas and we played cards, and it was rad.
  28. A member of my family had a (minor) medical crisis and I got to be the grownup in the situation for what I’m pretty sure was the first time, and it was actually kind of empowering.
  29. Oh yeah, some Kaleoians and I took the trek up to Lanier Theological Library for a lecture by Jeremy Begbie on art and the church, which included some excellent performances as well (spoken word poetry and cello, two of my favorite things). We also saw my friends Hannah, Jenni, and Johnny, people I’ve been meaning to get in the same room as each other for a while, and it was as delightful as I thought it would be.
  30. This year has been really hard in a lot of ways; I spent the first 2/3 of it working through a lot of emotional pain and things I’d left undealt with for years, and confronting my own sin and shame and fear and anger. But like I said, God also did a lot in me this year, and even though I felt crazy and sad and terrible, He continued to keep caring for me and looking after me, and I think I finally saw that He was both protecting me and letting me be made more like Him in all the times when I thought He’d just left me alone. And if nothing else, despite how hard a lot of this year was, I am still thankful for it.

the 2015 book list

I did you a favor(?) and linked to all these books on Amazon so you can take a look and see what they’re about if you want. An asterisk means it’s a re-read.🙂 Stats and the top 10 at the end…

January 17: Joy Davidman, Smoke On the Mountain
January 23: John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell, March: Book One
*February 9: Marilynne Robinson, Gilead
February 26: Karen Swallow Prior, Fierce Convictions
March 17: Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven
March 23: Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See
March 25: Jesse Ball, Silence Once Begun
*March 27: Tim and Kathy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage
April 12: Ernst Cline, Ready Player One
April 21: John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell, March: Book Two
April 25: James K.A. Smith, How (Not) to Be Secular
May 2: Ray Ortlund, The Gospel
May 9: Edward T. Welch, Depression: A Stubborn Darkness
May 12: Lauren Winner, Wearing God
May 24: Marilynne Robinson, Home
May 29: Edward T. Welch, Shame Interrupted
*June 3: Daniel Coyle, The Little Book of Talent
June 11: N.D. Wilson, Death By Living
*June 13: Adam L. Feldman, Journaling
June 22: Jared C. Wilson, The Storytelling God
July 2: Ed Catmull, Creativity, Inc.
July 8: Edward T. Welch, Running Scared
*July 8: Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
July 9: Stephen King, Joyland
*July 11: C.S. Lewis, The World’s Last Night
July 15: Andrew Klavan, The Last Thing I Remember
July 16: Andrew Klavan, The Long Way Home
July 16: Andrew Klavan, The Truth of the Matter
July 16: Andrew Klavan, The Final Hour
July 17: Paula Hawkins, The Girl On the Train
July 22: Tim Keller, Preaching
July 23: Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus
*August 5: Matthew B. Crawford, Shop Class As Soulcraft
August 6: D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression
August 12: Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
August 19: Marilynne Robinson, Lila
*August 25: Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
September 1: Tim Chester, You Can Change
September 5: Jen Wilkin, Women of the Word
September 11: Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman
September 11: Mike Cosper, The Stories We Tell
September 21: Scott Sauls, Jesus Outside the Lines
September 23: Michael Connelly, The Lincoln Lawyer
September 29: Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken
September 30: Patrick Rothfuss, The Slow Regard of Silent Things
October 2: Kathleen Norris, Dakota
October 11: Marie Kondo, The life-changing magic of tidying up
October 19: Nadia Bolz-Weber, Accidental Saints
October 24: James K.A. Smith, Letters to a Young Calvinist
November 2: Robert Galbraith, Career of Evil
November 11: James K.A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom
November 15: R.J. Palacio, Wonder
December 10: Russell Moore, Onward
December 29: James K.A. Smith, Imagining the Kingdom
December 29: *Lauren Winner, Girl Meets God

total: 55
fiction: 21
non-fiction: 24 (including 2 graphic memoirs)
books written by women: I was trying to read more books by ladies this year and I got to 21, compared to 11 last year, so that’s improvement, I suppose.🙂
most-read author: tie between James K.A. Smith (whose books I adored) and Andrew Klavan (whose books I kind of hate-read), with 4 apiece

top 10 non-rereads, in no particular order:
Lila
Desiring the Kingdom Imagining the Kingdom
Letters to a Young Calvinist
Station Eleven
Unbroken
The Night Circus
Shame Interrupted
Death By Living
Joyland

second week of advent.

1. abraham
Father Abraham’s sons and daughters
started as the stars in the sky and a promise
and fire passing through the carcasses of covenant
the flame, the blood, the unseen day

2. moses
exodus from slavery led to desert mountain
the holy mystery descending in earthquake
a choice set before them for life or for death
the law, the land, the unseen day

3. david
a better king to shepherd the sheep
than the youngest son plucked from the fields
a greater son to rule forever
the throne, the temple, the unseen day

4. Jesus
the pilgrim, the prophet, the better son
the lamb, the priest, the greater law
the shepherd, the king, the truer temple
all found in one loud Word of amen

first week of advent.

You said once that You groan along with us
When language fails us to speak the grief
Or pain or pleas up to the Father
Word of God, pray for us

You said once that You come near
To the ones who draw near to You
But what if we can’t find our way in the dark
Good Shepherd, seek Your sheep

You said once that the poor and meek
The mourners, the persecuted
Were the ones that would inherit the world
King of glory, bring Your kingdom

You said once that You were coming back soon
It’s been almost two millennia and we still
Keep looking down the road to catch a glimpse of You
Son of God, come back soon