Sunday, August 24, 2014

St. Francis de Sales, on loss

photo credit: Betsy Barber
This is a hard one, but I think he's right:
Well then, my child, if God takes everything from us, He will never take Himself from us, so long as we do not will it.
-St. Francis de Sales, from Thy Will Be Done: Letters to Persons in the World
Because, in the end, having the Lord? That is what matters.

Or, rather, belonging to the Lord. That might be putting it better, I think. Would I have an good thing, if I had to have it without him? No. (God helping me. Because I would need his help, oh yes, I would.)

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Weekend Links: Austen, Autism, and more!

Some good reading for your weekend:

"Simple Girl: The Improbable Solace of 'Mansfield Park'":
Usually, though, the most arresting scenes in Austen are revelatory, when, for instance, the elegant Mr. Elliot is shown to be cold and self-interested, or Mr. Darcy is exposed as the mysterious savior of the Bennet family. Mansfield Park is weirder. Its best moments are not thunderclaps of discovered malfeasance or heroism, but subtle thickenings in the dynamics of the story, small shifts which are easy to overlook, but in fact are such carefully layered moments as to be eerie, even sublime. One doesn’t often turn to Austen for a chill up the spine, but in Mansfield Park, her Georgian clarity is commingled with dread. In a number of these key moments, particularly those in the three scenes I think of as “the theatricals,” something repellent, even demonic, distends the novel’s porcelain skin.
"Children with Autism Have Extra Synapses in Brain":
Children and adolescents with autism have a surplus of synapses in the brain, and this excess is due to a slowdown in a normal brain “pruning” process during development, according to a study by neuroscientists at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). Because synapses are the points where neurons connect and communicate with each other, the excessive synapses may have profound effects on how the brain functions.
"I love you, California!":
I like living in a place that is bigger than me. Obviously most places other than a broom closet fit that qualification, but California is so much bigger than me: I will never master it. I will never visit everywhere I want to go. I will never know it by heart or discover all its secrets. It will always be wild and mysterious and grand, and somehow just out of my reach.

"Royals Round-Up, August 22, 2014: I have an unreasonable love for the Fug Girls' regular round-up of royals. Especially when they do Prince George's dialogue. Like so: "Give me that butterfly now, Daddy, please, it's time for me TO EAT IT. THANK YOU."

Hope you have a lovely weekend!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Book Notes: "Chalice", by Robin McKinley

"Chalice", by Robin McKinley is another one of those books I read on vacation. And on vacation, I really enjoyed it.

It's one of the spacier of McKinley's books.

The "spacey" label is hard to explain if you haven't read any McKinley before, but the best I can explain it is that McKinley is really good at writing books that make you feel as if you were dreaming. You know that vague-yet-specific, image-full-yet-clarity-less feeling you get when you're dreaming?  McKinley's books can be like that.

And this one really is.

Yet not in a bad way. I floated along quite happily reading this. I liked the land, I liked the bees, I liked the heroine, I emphasized with her frustratoin.  The resolution worked - though I'm not sure any other writer could have made it make sense.

If you want an atmospheric read that makes you think of sunshine and honey and herbs, this is your book. Very enjoyable, but sort of hard to explain afterwards.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Yarnalong: "The Ministry of Motherhood" and "Favorite Scarf Ever"

Ginny over at Small Things says: ~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a photo and share it either on your blog or on Flickr. Leave a link below to share your photo with the rest of us! ~

So here is what I'm knitting and reading right now:

The book: The book is "The Ministry of Motherhood", by Sally Clarkson. This is the first time I've read a book by Sally Clarkson, and I'm really glad I picked it up!

The knitting: The knitting is a free pattern, called "Favorite Scarf Ever", and I'm knitting it in the Candombe colorway of Malabrigo's sock yarn. My husband bought me this particular yarn on an anniversary trip a few years ago, and it took me awhile to figure out what I wanted to make from it. But this pattern is simple, and shows the variegated colors nicely. I'm looking forward to wearing it this fall!

For more posts about books & knitting, head on over to the yarnalong link-up over at Small Things.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Weekend Links!

Some good reading for your weekend, from around the Web:

"Aspergian Christianity":
. . . I soon came to see it as a gift that those with Aspergers or others on the autistic spectrum have to offer to the church and the world: the gift of truth-telling. Instead of being offended by the forthrightness or clarity of speech from those who have Aspergers, we can welcome it as a reminder of the way we use our words, and the power that they have. When choose beating around the bush, or gently trying to imply what feels like a blatant truth, we can learn from those who speak the truth plainly. We must always choose gentleness when communicating that truth, but we ought to pursue speaking the truth.
"Things I Love about the Things I Love" (this one has great pictures and GIFs):
The way it always feels miraculous when you look down at the finished product and think "this used to just be string." 

"Why You Do What You Do" - I'm still in the middle of listening to this podcast interview with Carolyn McCulley, so I can't endorse it whole-heartedly (yet, anyway), but I'm really appreciating her distinction between the idea of "women in the workplace" and "women being productive". Lots of good thoughts here.

"I Liked Everything I Saw on Facebook for Two Days. Here’s What It Did to Me": frightening stuff.

"It’s Just Better with Community":
God never meant for us to live our lives by ourselves. God lives in perfect community with Himself, and we as His image bearers are also to live in community with one another. When Christ ascended to the Father, He commissioned a community—the Church—to embody His message to the world. We need to live life with others. 

And finally, after hearing the sad news of Robin Williams' death, I found these two articles particularly helpful:
-"What Does the Church Say About Suicide?": I'm not Catholic, so I don't agree with every nuance here, but it's a really good place to start thinking about these issues.
-"the depressed Christian: why the dark night is no measure of your soul":
I wanted their souls to be better, stronger, more determined. I had no idea at all what their brains were going through. But now I know. And I am humbled beyond words.

I hope you have a lovely weekend.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Editing myself, editing others

It's really odd to turn from rewriting my own work to editing the work of someone else.

But that cognitive dissonance is where I'm living this week.  This week, I'm revising a novel I just finished. I'm looking at my own words and trying to make them clearer. The plot, the characters, the setting . . . I want every bit of this story to be compelling. I want it to pull the reader forward, to entice, to delight.

Basically, I want to make it very, very easy for the reader to keep on reading. If I do my job well, the reader won't even know I was there. She'll just know she read a great book.

And then, after an hour or two of revising my own stuff, I turn to my editing job: right now I'm reviewing and editing essays submitted for this collection.

All of the essays are heartfelt and moving. The writers' openness, honesty, and courage overwhelm me. These essays are all beautiful.

That's my reaction as a person, anyway.

But as an editor, some of them are a delight for a different reason. They're a delight because they make my job easy.

Some of the essays just read so smoothly and clearly that I look at them and think, "I have hardly anything to do here. This reads beautifully just as it is."

And then, then . . . then I realize what I'm aiming for as I revise my own work.

I want to make my editor smile. I want to make her think, "I have hardly anything to do here."*

Now I know.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

*Now that's a lie. Just a bit. I've never read anything, as an editor, that I thought I couldn't improve. And if I ever got anything back from an editor without notes, I think I'd keel over in a dead faint. But . . . there's notes and there's notes, you know?  You know. :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Book Notes: "Something Other Than God", by Jennifer Fulwiler

I've been a fan of Jennifer's blog for such a long time, but her book, "Something Other Than God", just hits it out of the park.

I read this book so quickly. It just flew by and putting it down - even when I really ought to have been sleeping - was really hard.

Most of you are probably familiar with Jenn's blog, Conversion Diary. I've read it for years, and I'm here to say: this book is not a regurgitation of her blog content. It's not a bunch of blog posts crammed together into a print volume; it's a real live book.

Yet, at the same time, it's Jenn's voice, the voice I've grown to love as I've read her blog over the years.

You know how Jenn is so straight-forward and blunt, and yet so honest and (when it's called for) absolutely, appropriately, gushy about how God works in our lives? Yeah, that's this book. ("Gushy" is not a diss. She's so smart, and researches so well. I'm just saying that, when it's right to be emotionally moved, she doesn't hide the fact that she's emotionally moved. I love that.)

It's no secret that I'm not a Roman Catholic, and so it's no secret that I disagree with some of the theology in this book. Nonetheless, her story about how God draws her near, defeats her human protests against his power, and makes clear to her that He is who He says He is?  That felt so familiar.

Great book. I'm glad I bought it, and I look forward to rereading it.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)