stuff I want to do this summer

  • Get to the beach (it’s not the best beach, but it’s our beach, dang it)
  • Get to the MFAH and the Menil and the Contemporary Arts Museum and the Printing Museum
  • Road trip somewhere (maybe Austin or Waco?)
  • Survive the summer reading program season
  • Submit a piece of writing somewhere
  • Try to read 20 books between Memorial Day and Labor Day
  • Go hiking
  • Go on a picnic with friends
  • Go to a show at Miller Outdoor Theatre
  • Get to a farmer’s market at least once a month
  • Start a monthly movie night
  • Do a worship night with my church
  • Buy a popsicle mold
  • Get somewhere dark to go watch the Perseid meteor shower in August
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ascension day: matthew

I keep thinking of the prophet, the words
I heard in synagogue when I was young, before I
Turned traitor and started working for the Romans:
“You ascended on high,
leading a host of captives in your train…”

You have gone where we can’t follow you, not yet anyway,
Just like you said forty-three days ago at supper.
And all of us that you have taken captive
With your truth and with your great affection
Are left here to wait for You to send some sort of help
Our way, to see what happens next.

You gave us one last word before you left, though: We’re
Supposed to leave here eventually, go tell the world
About You, the King of Israel, now ascended to Your rightful throne,
And bring more people into this kingdom You promised.
But I can barely leave this hill, because I keep thinking
That You’ll change Your mind and come back to be with us,
And the weight in my chest tells me, yes, You will,
But not yet.

right now.

(format stolen from Mighty Girl, who in turn stole it from someone else, I don’t remember who)

Making : A lot of graphics for my work’s Twitter account, because it’s about to be Summer Reading Program time and we are doing a crapload of programs, you guys.

Cooking : Lots of roasted veggies and chicken, because my friend Steph and I are doing a Whole 30 until next Wednesday (I am allergic to all of the things and she gets migraines a lot, and so we’re trying to figure out what food-related things make us feel like crap). I want a bowl of pho and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when this is done. :p

Drinking : Right now, coffee (French roast from HEB, pour over, with coconut milk out of a fantastic Beatles mug I got as a bridesmaid gift a couple of years ago). I also recently discovered Topo Chico Twist of Grapefruit, and you guys. It’s so good. Target also has a brand of LaCroix-ish sparkling water (Simply Balanced, in the blue cans) and the black cherry flavor is magic.

Reading: My Bible reading plan has me in the book of Job, which is coming after a stretch in the minor prophets, so I’ve been immersed in judgment and calls for repentance and now questions of theodicy and God’s righteousness in human suffering. Nice light reading material (ha). I’m also a chapter or so in to both Lectures on Revival by William Sprague (a large influence on Tim Keller’s work on revival and renewal, which is why I picked it up) and The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp.

Trawling: The internet, for a desk (I don’t currently own one; this missive is coming to you from my couch) and for deals on mattresses because mine’s not really working for me. Also, in the near future, resale shops and other places for a new coffee table and dining table.

Wanting: Tickets to Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen and Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, which are practically impossible to procure these days, but a girl can dream.

Looking: At my feet–I got a foot mask, which is this magical liquid that you let your feet soak in for an hour or so, and after a couple of days all the dead skin will start falling off of your feet. It’s slightly horrifying, because it comes off in giant flakes, so the soles of my feet look a little gnarly right now, but once it’s done my feet are going to look and feel awesome. That being said, I plan to wear shoes with socks in public for the next few days so as not to horrify anyone else.

Deciding: On what fiction I’m going to read next, on where I’m going to go for Labor Day weekend, on whether or not I’m going to Mbird Tyler next winter

Listening: Right now, Give Up by The Postal Service. Been loving a new podcast called The Red Couch, hosted by the rapper Propaganda and his wife Dr. Alma Zaragoza-Petty, and the sermon series another church in town is doing on revival (all of the local Sojourn churches, for you Houstonians).

Buying: I pre-ordered this decal for my laptop recently.

Watching: I’m trying to work my way through the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, and catch up on Doctor Who. Also, I’ve somehow never seen The Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi and so that’s on the docket for this weekend. (I know, I know.)

Marvelling: It’s late May in Houston and it’s only 70-odd degrees outside, thanks to the rain that came through earlier this week.

Cringing: My dead skin is so gross, you guys.

Needing: To make an appointment with a dentist, my eye doctor, my regular doctor, and my counselor, not necessarily in that order. Also, I should probably get up and make my dinner for tonight at work here in a minute.

Questioning: When my friends’ baby is going to make an appearance–he’s due today and so every text I get I keep expecting it to be his mom or dad saying “WE’RE GOING TO THE HOSPITAL!” He’ll show up when he’s good and ready, I guess, but you know. Also, I’m wondering why in the world I decided to buy so many bananas last night.

Smelling: Method lime + sea salt all-purpose cleaner (I just wiped down my kitchen counters).

Wearing: Jeans + flip-flops + this shirt, although I should probably go change my clothes to something more work-appropriate here in a second

Noticing: That my mouth tastes terrible after that coffee

*opens can of worms*

Let’s talk about white privilege!

I think part of the problem of discussing white privilege is that it can be easy to misunderstand what folks mean when they use that term; people can be pretty defensive about it based on a misreading of it. The following is what I’ve come up with as a definition, thanks to discussions had with people and listening to other people talk about it.

(By the way, let’s be real here: culturally, I am a white evangelical, even if I am not actually racially so. I am trying to be more aware of my own inherited white privilege, which I realize makes this conversation really weird for me to have. But I’m going to try anyway.)

White privilege does not mean:

  • Every white person has had an easy life.
  • Every white person is rich/comfortable/has not had to work for what they have.
  • People of color want white people to hate themselves and feel guilty for things they didn’t do, or they want them to be eliminated entirely.
  • All white people have intentional personal malice against people of color or don’t have friends or family who are people of color.

White privilege does mean, as far as I understand it:

  • White people in America have, in general, had more systematic advantages and fewer systematic disadvantages than people of color. For example: American white people are more likely to be highly educated and have land and other assets; white people are less likely to be prosecuted for certain crimes than people of color who’ve committed the same crime; media tends to normalize “whiteness” over and above other ethnicities; people of color face prejudice, hostility, violence, and other problems simply because of their race exponentially more frequently than white people do.
  • People of color don’t want to be superior to white people; they want to be equal to white people. And there are still so many ways that they are not seen or treated as such in America.
  • White people need not hate themselves for their privilege, nor even necessarily apologize for it (although of course one ought to repent where repentance is due). God has given them the life He has given them for a reason. What they do need to do is be aware of it and use it to work for justice and the full rights of their fellow citizens. This is especially true of Christians.
  • It is imperative that white Christians, as the party with the most cultural and social power, take it upon themselves to assume a posture of humility and teachability when people of color talk about how they’ve been treated or how they see injustice in our society, instead of ignoring, dismissing, or condescending to them. This is especially the case when what people of color say is uncomfortable or convicting, or even if it does not apply to you personally. Why? This is a way to love your neighbor as yourself–to treat them the way you would want to be treated in their position, to mourn with those that mourn, to be a peacemaker. You may not always agree with them, but you can love and honor them in your disagreement.
  • And it’s also imperative that you take responsibility for educating yourself–watch movies, read books and articles, listen to podcasts. Meet people and get to know them. The folks over at Reformed African American Network are a good jumping-off point.

I know that in these days this kind of thing can seem very political and polarizing, which is a shame; if we’re called to love our neighbors regardless of who they are or what they’ve done, I think that transcends politics. Or maybe it is an alternative politics–over and against the systems of the world, which encourages us to be tribal and alienated from one another, we follow a King whose kingdom embraces people of every color.

So what do y’all think? Would y’all add or correct anything?

a survey for grownups.

Five jobs you’ve had:
1. Bookseller
2. Circulation desk at a tiny academic library
3. Barista for a Starbucks inside a Target
4. One of the folks who set up shelf layouts and displays for Target
5. Public librarian

Five things that you know you’re good at:
1. Cooking (I mean, I’m not awesome at it, but I make pretty good edible food, so I’ll take that)
2. Writing
3. Learning a piece of music
4. Collecting/remembering information
5. Reading, which seems like a silly thing to put, but advanced literacy is more than just knowing what words are; it’s about understanding, analyzing, and/or applying what you read. I’m pretty good at it (thanks, liberal arts education)

Five things you’re bad at that you probably won’t ever be good at:
1. Math more advanced than very basic algebra
2. Sports that involve good hand-eye coordination
3. Wall sits
4. Not buying books
5. Keeping up with TV shows

Five things you are bad at that you’d like to improve in:
1. Running
2. Being physically strong
3. Managing money
4. Studying the Bible
5. Praying

Five things you do for self-care:
1. Trying to get more than 7 hours of sleep
2. I’ve been trying out mindfulness meditation; it’s not spoopy and it’s helped with my anxiety and short attention span
3. Counseling appointments
4. Aerobic exercise, when I actually get around to it
5. Making time to hang out with other people

Five qualities you’d like in a spouse, or things you like about your spouse:
1. Intelligence without arrogance
2. A good sense of humor
3. Knowledge of his need of Jesus and Jesus’ people
4. Humble courage
5. Good leadership

Five goals for this month:
1. Survive this Whole30 I’m doing with my friend Steph
2. Get back to the gym and run once my body gets adjusted to the Whole30
3. Write at least five blog posts
4. Read four books
5. Get rid of some of my stuff

Five places you want to go:
1. Nashville
2. London
3. Seoul
4. Dublin
5. San Francisco

Five things you’d like to buy soonish:
1. My trash can lid broke, so I need a new one of those
2. New mattress (I bought my current one before I obtained my bed frame, and it’s too shallow for the frame, so I literally have to crawl out of bed in the morning)
3. Some more art for my walls
4. A house (does five years count as soonish?)
5. A new guitar

Five non-social media websites you read a lot:
1. Mashable
2. The Financial Diet
3. Design Sponge
4. The Kid Should See This
5. Book Riot

1. Book recommendation: The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson–it’s about the Great Migration, the movement of millions of African Americans from the South to the North during the 1900s-1970s, as told through the stories of three people and their families. Thorough research, excellent workmanlike prose, and a deep respect and honor for the history and stories of the book’s subjects. It’s a long read, over 500 pages, but it’s worth your time.

2. I can’t stop thinking about something I heard on a podcast a couple of days ago: Calling is where your talents and burdens collide, or: Your calling is where the world’s hunger and your deep gladness meet. It’s gotten me thinking about what those things are for me, and also what my weaknesses are. I’ve spent my whole adult life trying to figure out what my calling is, and it’s still kind of a mystery to me.

3. Funny thing about that, too: I’ve been told by a lot of people that I’d be a good teacher, which is hilarious to me because I feel like a terrible teacher. I’ve taught stuff before, and it’s always a struggle for me, and I feel like I’m rambly and impatient with my students and I’m always casting about for things to say. Maybe I would be good at it if I got more practice and did more preparation. I dunno.

4. Speaking of teaching, I’ve been thinking about what it would take to have a catechism class at my church for both kids and grownups. We’re a Baptist church, so we don’t really do confirmation or anything like that for kids, but I think it’d be helpful in spiritual formation for everybody. I’d probably have to get a guy to co-teach it with me for the sake of propriety (we’re also complementarian) (then again, if I got a married guy to do it, would we be breaking the Billy Graham rule?), but I’d be down for something like that.

5. Not much else going on for me personally. I am thinking of and praying for the family of Jordan Edwards tonight as they’re grieving for a son who lost his life unnecessarily. His siblings saw him die. His parents have lost a child. This is wrong, and I hope the officer who did it comes to repent for it.

Ekemini Uwan raised the good point that everyone’s citing his good grades and good-kid status in order to counter the narrative that these things only happen to thugs or criminals, but even the people with bad records didn’t deserve to die. Why? Because they were made in the image of God and deserved justice and grace. Any narrative that says otherwise is counter to the gospel itself.

6. Much love to all y’all. Later.