Beholding Beauty in All Its Forms

When God created his people, he put them in a garden. Before he gave the mandate to work, to be fruitful and multiply, he set them in the center of beauty, goodness, and life. It is almost as if he wanted them to be primarily people who beheld rather than produced. It didn't take long for the beauty of the best to be thwarted by the enemy though, and so absorption of the self instead of the Creator has been stealing our gaze ever since. We are still all worshippers though, some of us blindly and some of us perennially reminded to lift our eyes to a better hill, one from which our help comes. The temptation to produce our own glory instead of absorbing the glory God wants us to behold is always near to us and we must become experts in bouncing our gazes back to him. 

Here are some (hopefully) true and beautiful and good words I've read, said, listened to, and feasted upon this week. 

Listen

We listened to this short talk from Andy Crouch this past week about high friction and low friction and I cannot recommend it more highly. It has been ringing in our ears for over a week now. 

Beau Hughes is the pastor of The Village Church Denton (once a campus of my church, now a plant of it), and he shared these words with us last week. It was one of my favorite testimonies in my near ten years at TVC. 

I spoke with my friend Christine Hoover about her new book, Searching for Spring, and my own journey with waiting for marriage, babies, and just all things slow coming

Sing

This album is coming soon from Audrey Assad and you're going to want to feast on it. 

Sandra McCracken just released her newest and it's the perfect Lenten soundtrack. 

This album has been going nearly non-stop in our house the past week. 

Short Reads

This interview with Karen Swallor Prior and her husband Roy is one of the best things I read online this week. Take a few minutes and feast on it. 

A few months ago Eric Schumacher sent me the draft for this article at Risen Motherhood. It was just before our most recent miscarriage and what a blessing for both Nate and me to read. 

My friend Tony Woodlief is (thank God) writing more regularly again. This piece on parenting his new twin boys in this season of life is rich, rich, rich. Read through to the end. We all need this reminder. 

Long Reads

Nate and I have been dreaming of a big backyard garden since we first saw our property in Denver. It hasn't come to fruition yet, but we're still dreaming. This book is helping

This is a memoir written by an upstate New York farmer. She's from one side of the Adirondacks and I'm from the other, but the culture, weather, farming, people, and anecdotes are all very similar. I loved this book. 

I first read this book in high school and started rereading it again last week. I'd forgotten how perfect it is. 

. . .

I hope you find some beauty in some of these recommendations or other sources you find on your own. I hope you can still your own hand of production long enough to appreciate the gifts, minds, and works of others. And I hope, more than all that, you can lift your gaze to the good, good Father who gives every good and perfect gift in its right and perfect time and never one single moment before. 

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Seasons, Readings, Writings, and Thanksgivings

I've been a bit MIA around these parts lately. Part of that is due to our month long fast and the other things my fingers found to keep busy. Part of that is just that it's winter and winter, for me, has always been a hibernation time. I think God created the seasons for a reason and he means for us to live into them instead of living into the seasons we make for ourselves. I think part of the reason our world is so tired and hurried and anxious is because we are constantly trying to force unnatural rhythms onto life. We take vacations in the summer and fill our autumns and winters with activities galore, never minding that God designed summer for growth, autumn for harvest, winter for rest, and spring for planting. If we were to truly live into those seasons just as they are, I think we would be less prone to throw around words like "contentment" or "season of life" or "exhausted" as lazily as we do. God meant for winter to slow us down, to slow our production, to sometimes cease our growth, and to let dead things die if they must. And none of that is bad. It's just our perspective that needs to change. 

Also, though, I've been sick the past week and it's easy to talk about hibernating when you can't breathe out of your nose or your mouth and when your head feels like it's under twenty feet of water. So there's that. But also, seasons. 

I read a lot throughout January and although most of my reading wasn't online, I did read a few pieces I wanted to share with you. They might interest you too: 

I cut this one out of our Sunday Times and taped it to our fridge I loved it so much. The Poet of Light by Christian Wiman on Richard Wilbur

If you've seen Look & See: a portrait of Wendell Berry, then you probably had the same complaint I did: we hardly saw anything of Berry himself! But something I loved about the documentary was the delightful presence of his wife. Here's an article on her that made me want to be a wife like she is

This was a quiet podcast for a quiet evening, both of which I quite enjoyed. Krista Tippett interviewed John O'Donohue for OnBeing

Speakings of podcasts, Nate and I worked through this series from Beau Hughes (The Village Church, Denton) on shame. I cannot recommend it more highly. 

I hope you took a few minutes to read Rachel Denhollander's words at the conclusion of the Larry Nassar trial. This is a great follow-up interview at Christianity Today with her

I subscribe to Poetry Foundation's Poem of the Day feed and you might want to as well. Listening to poetry is such a good discipline. Reading it is fine and good too, of course, but poetry is lyrical and best experienced heard. 

Also, I just wanted to say a heartfelt thank you to all of you who support Sayable on Patreon and who have downloaded the e-books. I have gotten so many messages from you saying you're being encouraged by the work there. That means so much to me. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I am only 30 away from 200 supporters on Patreon, at which point I'll be starting to coach a small writing group. Details about it will come after that point, but I will say there will be an application process and it will be opened first to Patreon supporters. I will only be able to invite 20 people into the group (which will last between 12-16 weeks, still undecided on that), so if you are at all interested you'll need to begin preparing a 300 word non-fiction writing sample (on anything). There will be a cost for participation in the group, but it won't be astronomical, just to cover my time coaching. I read through my tentative plan to Nate last week and started getting pretty excited about this endeavor. Everything we'll be doing has been part of my process of becoming a better writer, thinker, and receiver of criticism. I hope it helps each of you as well. Again, more details on that after we reach 200. Grateful for each of you. 

View from the sickbay. Harper is under there somewhere...and Nate, I think. 

View from the sickbay. Harper is under there somewhere...and Nate, I think.