Friday, September 19, 2014

Treasures :: A Rainbow Lanyard with a Pewter Cross Pendant

Inspired by Leigh McLeroy's book Treasured: Knowing God by the Things He Keeps, I'm asking: What tangible pieces of my spiritual history would I place carefully in my own cigar box for safekeeping? What stories have shaped my journey with this ever-faithful, treasure-keeping God? After a several months-long hiatus, I'm picking back up below with part five of the "Treasures" series. 

V. A rainbow lanyard with a heavy pewter cross pendant

A woman placed the colorful necklace over my head on a Sunday afternoon, at the close of one of the best weekends of my life. I was emerging from a three-day chrysalis.

We high school girls gathered on a Friday morning, some nervous, some excited, some reluctant. They told us, “Don’t anticipate, participate,” and they called us caterpillars. We divided into small groups, sat around tables and named our groups—names with which we’d have to introduce ourselves for life, but we didn’t know that at the time.

We listened to earnest, thoughtful talks, and we discussed and prayed and cried. We laughed and snacked and created posters, skits and songs. On Saturday night we got a little taste of Heaven: I have never experienced the love and welcome of God before or since quite so powerfully as I did in that candlelit sanctuary.

On Sunday afternoon, they announced, we were butterflies. We had grown, we had seen God, and we were ready to take our “Next Steps” back into a world that hadn’t changed while we were cocooned inside that church. We read piles of letters from loved ones, collected by our sponsors, and the tears rolled down my cheeks, my heart fit to burst.

At the closing service for Greater Findlay Area Girls’ Chrysalis Flight #13, we each received a necklace—a heavy pewter cross with a butterfly engraved on one side and "CHRIST IS COUNTING ON YOU" on the other, hanging from a lanyard someone had knitted with variegated yarn dyed in bright Roy G. Biv hues. As the Lay Director hung the necklace around each girl's neck, she said, "Christ is counting on you," and the girl was to respond, "I am counting on Christ."

I would go on to serve as a Teen Table Leader on one of these weekends two years later--another priceless, incredible experience on the other side. In the meantime, I’d shower others with “agape” (our name for the notes and gifts as tangible expressions of love poured out on the participants all weekend long). I’d set alarms for three a.m. prayer vigil slots and write letters and hold candles while singing “Love, love, love, love / The gospel in one word is love…” I’d even sponsor both my parents to go on an Emmaus Walk (the adult version of Chrysalis). And at monthly gatherings, I’d sing “modern” (1980s) worship songs with reckless joy and introduce myself as “Amy Kaylor, Greater Findlay Area Girls’ Chrysalis Flight #13, Table of God’s ‘G’ Girls.” I always felt silly saying that name, but I dearly loved the woman and the girls who had sat around it with me.

This community nurtured me and fed my soul while I was enduring the growing pains of no longer fitting in the church where I’d grown up. And then eventually, I no longer fit here, either.

I wore the rainbow lanyard one last time in the fall of 2004, after I’d graduated from college and was engaged to be married. I was invited to serve as an Adult Table Leader this time, to nurture a group of young caterpillars and watch them take flight. It was an opportunity I dearly cherished, but I was quickly sinking into a season I'd later refer to as a "dark night of the soul"; dry and empty, I had little to give to my girls. The low point was a huge and heartbreaking moment when one of the speakers basically said something heretical in the Q&A following her talk.

I realized that the rainbow lanyard had served its purpose, that its colors and heft no longer felt right against my chest. Yet while the time had come to nestle it in a drawer, I did so with fondness. I had been deeply moved and changed by the opportunities I'd had in this community to be loved and to love others.

The Emmaus/Chrysalis community loves and serves Jesus by loving and serving each other so practically and faithfully. They fill 72-hour prayer vigils; they serve meals and drive shuttles to shower facilities at six a.m. They serve on administrative boards, clean bathrooms, sacrifice weekends. They give hugs and make bookmarks and overwhelm people with a thousand little ways of saying, "God loves you. You are precious to Him, and you matter to us. We will go out of our way to help you encounter Him and know Him."

While I needed to move on from Chrysalis, there was no mistaking what the movement had done for my sense of identity, my understanding of the personal love of God, and my concept of the power and beauty of a body of believers.

Treasures, previously:
A broken piece of cornerstone
A sharp pebble
A pastel index card 
A Bible with a broken spine

Monday, September 08, 2014

Multitude Monday, Take 331

OY. It's been a while! Thanking God these past few weeks for many things, including...

6391. a walk home from school in the pouring rain

6392. easy + open communication with Elijah's teacher
6393. a bushel of peaches...gone before any of them made it to the freezer
6394. boys cheerfully emptying the dishwasher
6395. Steve beautifully preaching the gospel to my unbelieving heart
6396. Jude "working" right alongside Daddy (and by "right alongside" I mean "literally in Daddy's personal space")

6397. confronting me with the ugliness in my heart
6398. finding out about my alma mater's alumni chorale for homecoming in time to get one of the spots
6399. Steve's example of perseverance and learning through failure
6400. friends buying smart cards for Elijah's school fundraiser
6401. Aldi bacon cooked in a Pampered Chef stone bar pan (PERFECTION.)

6402. stories of slavery courageously told
6403. the people who fought for its abolition
6404. people who work to free modern-day slaves
6405. new book won on a blog giveaway
6406. an unexpected phone call from a dear friend

6407. the low angle of the rising sun on our morning walk to school
6408. peacemakers
6409. Skype
6410. a long-overdue phone date with my college roommate
6411. boys telling me I look pretty

6412. Jude begging to watch This Old House (seriously. what 3yo gets excited about that show?! love it.)
6413. a friend loving me enough to call me out on being harsh with my boys
6414. extended study time in the Word
6415. husband enabling me to get away and work
6416. husband engaging with his boys--bike rides, obstacle courses, wrestling, spaghetti-and-marshmallow towers

6417. teachable moments with the boys
6418. a stark, convicting reminder of how hurtful yelling is
6419. Pioneer Woman's Italian drip beef (we serve it open-faced on ciabatta with sure and broil it the last minute or two to brown the cheese :)
6420. my boys' health and life, and reminders of how fragile both are
6421. Labor Day dinner with friends

6422. toasted marshmallows and s'mores
6423. carpet installed upstairs!

6424. KIND bars
6425. Steve's porkchop grilling. also perfection.
6426. company picnic at Beech Bend Park

6427. the apostle Peter
6428. God's patient mercy with him and with me
6429. coffee with a friend
6430. another unexpected phone call from another dear friend and plans on the calendar to catch up in person next week!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Book Review: Interrupted [Jen Hatmaker] *PLUS GIVEAWAY*

If I have to be wrecked--if I am going to read a book that's going to make me squirm--I can't think of a better travel guide than Jen Hatmaker. At the risk of sounding all fan-girl...I just love her. Fantastic sense of humor, deep love for Jesus, and her insights on the church and culture are so frequently spot on.

So when I had a chance to get a free review copy of her self-proclaimed favorite book, Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity (extensively revised and re-released), you better believe I was all over that.

This is not a feel-good story...and yet it is. Jen recounts the painful, hilarious, gut-wrenching journey of how God gave her eyes to see what had been in Scripture all along, and called her and her family out to actually live it. She could no longer be satisfied with her comfortable Christian life spent "blessing the blessed and serving the saved"--she couldn't un-see, couldn't un-know. She writes in the introduction:

“This is the story of my heart, the arc I find most relevant and vital to my generation: God plucked me and my family out of complacent, comfortable, safe Christianity and dropped us into the deep end of struggle, injustice, brokenness, and a hurting humanity. Whatever used to be soft and squishy about faith gave way to a stunning urgency and painful acknowledgement of the mission at hand.”

And yet, as she wrote in a wonderful blog post today, the life she has found on the other side is better than anything she could have imagined. So she encourages the reader:
God is not engineering a Guilt Trip. Just go ahead and knock that off. He is giving you eyes to see a little better and ears to hear a little clearer, and you wringing your hands and mourning lost years is not helping. You did the best you could with what you knew. Now God is just giving you more to know, so off you go. Don’t be guilty; be grateful, be generous, be brave. 
I so appreciate this perspective. This book is hard-hitting; Jen doesn't mince words about the seriousness of Jesus' words and the urgency of our mission. Yet she clings fiercely to the gospel as she calls us to live out its implications. She finds comfort in the midst of the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25--somewhere I've never seen it. She comes alongside you as a fellow sojourner and friend, not a preachy know-it-all who is disgusted that you just don't get it yet. She's wonderfully willing to tell you how she has stumbled along the way. And she shows you the compelling beauty of Jesus and invites you to get on mission with Him.

A few of the best bits of the material were familiar to me from her phenomenal talk at IF:Gathering last February--especially the chapter "Desiring, Doing and Remembering," a radical, fresh look at Luke 22 (Jesus at the Last Supper). I've thought about her exposition of "do this in remembrance of Me" many times since I first heard it. I will say, however, that in the book, this section included one of the only quotes that made me pause to scribble down an argument. She says: "Obedience to Jesus’ command is more than looking backward; it’s a present and continuous replication of His sacrifice. We don’t simply remember the meal; we become the meal.”

I have to raise a serious objection here. Jesus’ sacrifice cannot be replicated. Ever. Our works are not the good news—His are. Our sacrifice may save physically, but only His can bring spiritual, eternal salvation. I love what she is saying here, how honoring and remembering Jesus is so much more than a five-minute ritual during a Sunday morning service, but in our zeal for Christlikeness and Christ-honoring social justice and mercy, we cannot confuse or equate our work with Jesus’ once-for-all work. Truly, Jen knows this, and her larger point stands and is so very important--but I just couldn't let that one go without comment.

And really, on the whole, Jen does not miss that point. At all. She cautions clearly against those who focus on doing good works apart from Jesus:
"There is no back door into salvation, rerouted around the sacrifice of Christ. Otherwise, the whole earth could gain heaven by good works, and His day on the cross would be pointless.” 
I so appreciate this gospel emphasis, and it gives me hope. Could our generation be the one when the two halves of the coin come together? The church commonly drives in one ditch or the other—either a focus on right theology and doctrine to the neglect of social justice, or a focus on social justice to the abandonment of truth and the gospel. Oh, that God would raise up a generation of men and women who love Him and His Word passionately, who keep the person and work of Christ absolutely central to everything, and *in response to* that glorious gospel, are passionate about social justice and extending mercy! 

I'm tempted to copy and paste eleventy billion more quotes here, since I underlined half the book. Her actual words say it so much better than my feeble attempts to summarize...especially at 11PM when I've procrastinated writing this review for a month :P Suffice to say I loved the book and found it well worth reading. I saw in Jen's story the undercurrent of dissatisfaction in my own journey, the persistent questions of "is this all there is?," the uncomfortable acknowledgement that I am not actually spending and being spent for the things that Jesus said matter most.

I have to admit, however, that while the book resonated so deeply and was convicting to me, I also lost steam a little through the last section, and even came away feeling a little discouraged rather than energized and motivated. I suspect that a lot of that has to do with my own personal circumstances rather than with any lack in the book.

Jen is careful to note repeatedly that Austin New Church is *not* the perfect church that has all this figured out. Still, I had this sense that it would be a lot…well, “easier” isn’t the word, but realistic, maybe, or doable…if you had a body of believers with this kind of vision and commitment, rather than being “wrecked” on your own and trying to navigate what you can and should do individually. I look forward to having my husband read this so we can talk about it more, for sure. And certainly the first call is to prayer--to earnestly ask God to kindle in me a holy discontentment and produce in my heart the courage to follow where He leads.

I want to say so much more, to give you a better taste of the book...but I confess that having procrastinated so terribly, sleep wins out over a well-crafted review at this point. So I will conclude with one more quote, from Jen's blog post today--I loved her words to her "past self," the Jen who first wrote this book five or six years ago:
...This is the beginning of the rest of your life. Embrace it all – all the struggle, all the tension, all the humility, all the beauty. It is safe to be faithful to a faithful God. He loves you and is for you. He loves this world and is for it. Put that YES on the table indefinitely and, seriously, go with God.

I'm so glad that this book has been expanded and re-released for this very reason--the way the author can come back with a few years of perspective and affirm her own message from experience. And as I've revisited the book today and read through Jen's latest post, I'm inspired again and longing to press deeper into following Jesus.

GOOD NEWS: I have a copy of this book to give away to a lucky reader! Tyndale sent me both an e-version and a print copy--so I am happy to pass the print version along to someone else who wants to be wrecked in the best of ways :) Leave a comment below to enter. The winner will be chosen at random on Friday at 5:00PM (CDT). 

UPDATE 8/22, 5:10PM: We have a winner!
Comment #10 (Laura) will be receiving Interrupted next week in the mail. Thanks to all of you who read and entered!

[full disclosure: Tyndale sent me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review]

Monday, August 11, 2014

Multitude Monday, Take 330

Thanking God this week for...

6363. Jude's excitement to go to preschool

6364. a neighborhood with tons of huge trees
6365. this powerful spoken word piece by a college acquaintance of mine
6366. delicious new recipes

6367. His Spirit at work in me, producing hunger and desire for His Word and prayer
6368. brothers walking to school side by side

6369. this phenomenal message from Paige Benton Brown
6370. two shirts from JCPenney for $3.24
6371. the opportunity to bless a pregnant friend by taking care of a food craving :)
6372. the privilege of voting

6373. a great meeting with Elijah's new teacher at open house
6374. Steve making progress on finish work around the stairs
6375. bags heavy with farmers' market goodness
6376. Elijah helping me make his birthday cake
6377. Steve getting creative with frosting it

6378. seven years with the sweet boy who made me a mama
6379. how completely Elijah has outgrown his communication delays
6380. his love for God's Word and for books and reading in general
6381. his creative and curious mind
6382. his affection and compliments

6383. the sprinkling of freckles across Elijah's cheeks
6384. his obedience and gratitude
6385. his excitement about the watch we gave him for his birthday

6386. our pastor equipping us to better feed ourselves from the Word
6387. the inexhaustible riches of Scripture

6388. technology that enabled us to do birthday candles and presents "with" both sides of our family
6389. all three of my guys raving about the macaroni and cheese I made at Elijah's request
6390. bedtime snuggles and prayers with the birthday boy

Monday, August 04, 2014

Multitude Monday, Take 329

Thanking God this week for...

6331. juicy, sweet, local peaches
6332. Thai chicken tacos
6333. crepe myrtles

6334. Steve's ability to make analogies and bring biblical truths to a 3yo/6yo level
6335. boys encouraging me while I work out
6336. beautiful days to play at the park
6337. showing me new things in Scriptures I've read dozens of times
6338. grace to toss my to-do list aside and enjoy time with my boys

6339. the huge mosaic dragon at Fannie Mae Dees Park

6340. a dear friend meeting us there so we could chat while the boys played
6341. Elijah and Jude's over-the-top excitement when I told them she was coming
6342. Jude trying so hard to be "stwong" and carry heavy stuff
6343. painting finished upstairs, little-by-little progress

6344. immediate, lavish answers to prayer
6345. soccer cleats in Elijah's size for $10 at Play It Again Sports
6346. the means to buy school supplies
6347. a lunch date with Elijah
6348. the way he inhales pancakes

6349. friends showing up at the park unexpectedly
6350. Jude's giggles as he spun round and round on the tire swing
6351. boys being so flexible about naptimes and lunchtimes
6352. Steve suggesting our favorite Mexican restaurant for Friday night dinner
6353. the incredible busboy who balanced five plates on one arm

6354. squeaky clean boys
6355. sweet corn
6356. BLT wraps
6357. opportunities to serve in areas where I am weak and not gifted
6358. our pastor applauding and affirming women in his sermon on Exodus 1-2

6359. Elijah cheerful and excited, not nervous, about his first day at a new school

6360. only 15 kids in his class
6361. Elijah reporting that he had a great day
6362. opportunities to let go of control and learn to trust

Friday, August 01, 2014

Things I Learned in July

This month, I haven't been as good at keeping track of the little random lessons I'm learning, but here are a few...

1. If your waitress casually mentions that the dish you're ordering has "Moroccan spices" and "South African spices," you should ask for clarification and not just assume that "spices" could mean "like cinnamon" and probably just indicates "flavorful." Because if you don't, your food will be so hot it will set your throat on fire. If you are me, you will at least have cause to feel thankful because a) your husband loves spicy food and b) he will be willing to trade with you halfway through and let you finish his lobster and shrimp risotto. This lesson brought to you by our anniversary dinner at Tin Angel :)

2. I like rap. Specifically Shai Linne's album The Attributes of God. I feel a little ridiculous sometimes cruising around in my minivan jamming to a good beat...but what can I say :) We've listened to four or five of his albums and this one is definitely our favorite--all four of us have been enjoying it. I find myself frequently astounded at how he can pack so much truth into so little space, let alone how he can make it rhyme! Really incredible theology writing. 

3. I have access to a gajillion playlists through Amazon Prime. We're trying out Prime this year for the first time, and I gotta say that while the free two-day shipping has been a fabulous perk, I've been disappointed with the selection of movies to stream for free and books to borrow. Just now (literally five minutes ago) I found out there's alllll kinds of music I can download free. Looking forward to checking that out.

4. I mentioned a couple of months ago how disgusted I was with Monogrammed Cases and Skins--well, this month I found a good replacement. It's worth watching Groupon for - while I wouldn't be willing to pay full price for one of their cases, the $20 groupon I got was a great deal. Lots of great designs to choose from, all even more customizable than I thought at first, and fast service. The case looks great and has protected my phone through more than one drop already. Not sure how often they do Groupons, but it looks like they run sales occasionally (right now it is 20% off).

5. It pays to be on a favorite blogger/author/artist's email list. It seems that more and more bloggers are creating these weekly or monthly subscription lists, not just to get their posts in your inbox but to get bonus emails with exclusive content. Being on Jen Hatmaker's list snagged me a free copy of her new book (she opened the giveaway to her "Email Friends" before making it public). Plus her emails make me snort-laugh every single time. Love it.

6. That whole "bake your sweet corn in the oven, still in the husk, and it will slide right out" thing that's been going around? Yeah, that TOTALLY didn't work for me. I ended up having to go to almost as much trouble as shucking a raw ear of corn--yet having to handle it while steaming hot. Not ever doing that again.

Check out the linkup at Chatting at the Sky for more posts like this one! 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Multitude Monday, Take 328

Thanking God this week for...

6299. grace to get up with my early alarm
6300. encouragement from Steve
6301. 99-cent iced coffee
6302. boys being the most spectacular shoppers ever in the history of Kroger, on a day when I really, really needed that
6303. husband washing me with the water of the Word

6304. this book free in the mail, uncomfortable though it may be

6305. first bruschetta pizza of the summer
6306. first bruschetta chicken of the summer
6308. grace to model confession and repentance to my boys
6309. time in the gospel of Mark with a friend

6310. Microsoft Office for free through Steve's work
6311. five gallons of organic blueberries (plus all the berries we ate while we picked :)

6312. zinnias (at least I'm pretty sure that's what this is...)

6313. boys asking theological questions, talking about God and Heaven
6314. a date with my favorite six-year-old

6315. the way he leans over his handlebars to go faster
6316. the fact that he still wants to hold my hand
6317. grace to ask for help when I feel weak and full of despair
6318. Steve's ability and willingness to preach truth to my unbelieving heart
6319. being a God who remains faithful when I am faithless

6320. the (intentionally) muddy play area at Edwin Warner Park
6321. little boys getting dirty and having fun

6322. both boys' recent enthusiasm and gratitude about the meals I cook
6323. time spent working on the house with Steve
6324. progress, slowly but surely
6325. blueberry cheesecake flapjacks for Saturday morning breakfast

6326. answered prayers
6327. a dear friend's incredible beauty and strength, exalting Christ in the midst of trials
6328. grace to pray when I don't feel like it and have only a mustard seed of faith
6329. the thunderstorm coming before we went to bed, so we could find the bathroom window leaking and fix the problem instead of waking up to a flooded mess
6330. Jesus' perfect obedience in my place

Monday, July 21, 2014

Multitude Monday, Take 327: Ohio Gifts

Lots of gifts to count from the past couple of weeks! My awesome parents took the boys--both of them! at the same time!--for a few days, then Steve and I joined them in Ohio for a family reunion in honor of his grandfather's 90th birthday. After that, Steve and his younger brother came back here, and the boys and I stayed in Ohio for the rest of the week. I've been thanking God for so many blessings, including...

6255. safety on the road over hundreds and hundreds of miles driven
6256. my parents' desire to spend time with their grandsons and bless us
6257. a lunch date with my future SIL
6258. a wrong turn that led to a serendipitous meeting with my brother at his fire station

6259. an afternoon with a dear friend
6260. streaks of lightning in the sky, reminders of His power and majesty
6261. a quiet house and a break from mothering responsibilities
6262. anniversary date at Tin Angel

6263. these gorgeous eyes

6264. seventeen years of walking with Jesus
6265. seventeen-plus years of friendship with my BFF who was saved the same night
6266. accountability for prayer with two dear friends, helping me grow
6267. rich theology skillfully packed into poetry
6268. a road trip with no kids, uninterrupted conversations

6269. big hugs and snuggles from little boys after a few days apart
6270. excited stories of what they did with Grammy and Pops

6271. an evening spent catching up with old friends
6272. a bike ride around the neighborhood where I grew up
6273. Paige Benton Brown's powerful preaching

6274. longevity in Steve's genes

6275. my nephew begging Aunt Amy to push him on the swing
6276. getting to watch my niece's t-ball game
6277. Grandma building Lego with the boys
6278. an evening spent catching up with my BFF
6279. getting to snuggle her brand-new baby

6280. a bike ride and an ice cream date with my niece

6281. quiet afternoons to sit on screened-in porches and read/write during naptimes

6282. the REAL train at the Toledo Zoo//cousins sitting together and behaving!

6283. these little Cindy-Lou-Who pigtails :)

6284. orangutans, gorillas, spider monkeys
6285. unbelievably cool and pleasant weather (whoever heard of going to the zoo in long sleeves and jeans in JULY?!)
6286. gorgeous flowers in my parents' yard

6287. Jude's guilty conscience and tender heart
6288. my dad's homemade ice cream, best there is

6289. no mosquitoes in my parents' backyard
6290. a tour at the Mazza Museum of International Art from Picture Books

6291. the legacy of a love for books and reading that my mom has built into me and my sons
6292. an ice cream date with Grammy and Pops
6293. boys being the BEST little travelers they have EVER, ever been when I had to do the trip home with them by myself--seriously specatular!
6294. sweet reunion with Steve
6295. this gourmet dinner he had waiting for us

6296. the work my brother-in-law did on our house while I was gone
6297. quality time Steve got to spend with his brother
6298. a home and a family in Heaven that must be beyond spectacular, to outshine all this :)

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Things I Learned in May and June

In the chaos of kindergarten end-of-the-year and preparing for our vacation, I forgot to get my "Things I Learned in May" post up--now here it is July already. WHERE is our summer going???

A few random tidbits I've learned over the past two months: 

1. The word "berserk" comes from Norse warriors called Berserkers, whom ancient Norse literature describes as having fought in "a nearly uncontrollable, trance-like fury."

2. It is liberating to click "unfollow." I tried to pull back from my Facebook usage during Lent, with minimal success--it is so easy to get sucked back in. In the meantime, a friend posted a "farewell, Facebook" blog post, and her words challenged me to try harder. I decided that while it wasn't realistic or necessary for me to completely log off, I could pare down considerably. It was hard, but I went through and "unfollowed" a huge number of the people on my news feed. I didn't want to unfriend people altogether; this way, they can still see my stuff if they want, and I can always pop over to their page and check in to see how they're doing. But their daily updates don't show up on my feed, making a lot less new material for me to scroll through when I log on. It really isn't necessary for me to know what's going on with people I really wasn't close to in high school or college and wouldn't be in touch with at all if not for FB! And keeping up with their lives meant less time for keeping up with relationships that really are important to me.

I so need to learn this lesson at a deep level: EVERYTHING I say "yes" to means saying "no" to something else. Am I saying "yes" to the right things, or am I inadvertently saying "no" to more important things because I don't want to make choices that seem difficult in the short-term? Sigh...

3. At her coronation, Queen Elizabeth II wore 45 pounds of crown jewels, robes, etc. My full review of her biography Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch is on Goodreads.

4. Related: I can listen to audiobooks at double speed on my phone. LIFE. CHANGING. My whole life I have found it depressing that I will never be able to read all the books I want to read. The more I read, the more books I find out about and add to my list--and new ones are published daily! But now I can get through twice as many books. It's probably a little insane how excited this makes me.

5. Every language has phonotactic rules--restrictions on vowel sequences, consonant clusters or syllable structure. And because of these rules, the closest you can get to saying "Merry Christmas" in Hawaiian is "Mele Kalikimaka." Fascinating little video here--if you're a word nerd like me, you'll love it (just a few minutes long, and fast-paced). 

6. There are three different ways to pronounce "banal." I always thought it rhymed with "anal," and was thrown for a loop when someone in an audiobook pronounced it differently. Turns out both ways, plus another yet, are acceptable. Whew.

7. After months of wondering how people were getting all those smiley faces and other miscellaneous icons in their Instagram comments, I finally figured out how to install the Emoji keyboard on my phone.

8. James A. Garfield was an incredible man--my new favorite president. I loved Candace Millard's Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President. So tragic that he was in office such a short time!

9. Nail polish that's 2-3 times more expensive as other brands does not actually last any longer than the cheap kind. *cough* I'm looking at you, essie *cough*

10. Don't leave important paperwork on the dining room table, ever. Let's just say this was learned the hard way on a morning that involved an overturned water glass, a birth certificate, signed forms and the intention of registering for first grade. 

What have you learned recently?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Multitude Monday, Take 326

Given that it's now Wednesday, I wouldn't ordinarily bother with this post, except that I already went to all the trouble of uploading pictures on Monday--so here's last week's gratitude, better late than never, I guess. Thanking God this week for...

6230. Vacation Bible School for both boys
6231. coffee with a new friend
6232. lunch at Pizza Hut (still using Book-It certificates!) with a friend and her boys
6233. Jude still little enough to eat from the buffet for free
6234. invitation to my brother's wedding in the mail

6235. Elijah's reaction to my zucchini bread pancakes: "Mom, these are so delicious! You're the best cooker of breakfast ever!"
6236. regained ability to do lots of real pushups
6237. an encouraging first meeting with the principal at Elijah's new school
6238. Jude helping me make zucchini lasagna

6239. making it to the zoo just in time to catch the DinoTrek exhibit

6240. patient goats

6241. baby camels drinking from a bottle

6242. Galapagos tortoises coming close

6243. fun outing with the boys

6244. sunbeams filtering through the trees

6245. the prettiest loaves of bread I've ever made

6246. brunch with a dear friend to break up my road trip

6247. safe travels up to Cincinnati and back by myself
6248. an excellent audiobook to pass the time
6249. a beautiful day for an outdoor bridal shower
6250. getting to come celebrate with my future sister-in-law

6251. girls' night with my mom and an aunt
6252. making it back for church Sunday morning
6253. the boys' faces and eager hugs and kisses when I walked in
6254. our pastor's edifying, passionate preaching