Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Links: Lament, either/or, and more!

"The Language of Lament":
After many years of reading and study, I have yet to find a single word in scripture that is trite. Not one. Yet I see such words, I hear them, I cringe at them in so many parts of the larger Christian community. I choose to believe that the motives behind such words are good ones, that perhaps those who use truisms, clichés, and bromides have not yet been introduced to the lovely language we’re given, the words and questions that comprise over half of the ancient psalter, language that speaks for us when we cannot find our voice.
"The Lure of Either/Or":
Yeah, it’s a little more complicated than teaching people, “Just do X, and there will be no problem.” It really would be easier if we could just tell girls, “Cover up, missy. The end” or if we could just tell boys, “Do right, sonny. The end.” But we can’t do that. The world doesn’t work that way.
"Yes, God Will Give You More Than You Can Handle":
A few months ago, I sat with a good friend who had just learned of his son’s terminal diagnosis. He wept and said, “I’d do anything to give my life for him.” It was one of the most powerless feelings I have ever experienced. All we could do was sit together and weep.
"Faith Outside the Bubble":
"The riddles of God," said G. K. Chesterton, "are more satisfying than the answers of man." This sparkling one-liner from the 20th century's best theological journalist could serve as a motto for Matthew Lee Anderson's new work, The End of Our Exploring: A Book About Questioning and the Confidence of Faith (Moody Publishers). Like C. S. Lewis before him, Anderson sets out to explore a middle way between free-floating skepticism and dogmatic certainty. The first perspective sees any form of commitment as betraying integrity, holding that the wise are characterized by permanent questioning. The other refuses to think about questions, seeing them as a slippery slope leading slowly but surely to unbelief. 
"That’s not autism: It’s simply a brainy, introverted boy":
In our extroverted culture, where being a “team player” and a “people person” are seen as linchpins of normalcy, the notion that a brainy, introverted boy might legitimately prefer the world of ideas over the world of people is hard for most people to accept. Parents of such boys may feel terribly uneasy about their tendency to want to be alone and try to push their sons to be sociable and to make more friends. But if you get to know such boys, they would much rather be alone reading, writing, or pursuing projects that stimulate their intellect than be socializing with peers who are not their intellectual equals. However, once they come into contact with a kindred spirit, someone who is a true intellectual equal with whom they can share the fullness of their ideas, that person just might become a lifelong friend. Around such kindred spirits, brainy, introverted boys can perk up and appear more extroverted and outgoing, wanting to talk as well as to listen. With people who share their interests, especially people who possess equal or greater knowledge in these areas, brainy, introverted boys can display quite normal social skills.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Friday, September 20, 2013

Book Notes: "Spiritual Disciplines for Busy People", by Andrew Yee

Can I note first: this e-book is free? Nice.

Though probably what I should have noted first is: this e-book is excellent.

Andrew Yee is a spiritual director. He's also a dad with a couple of kids, and understands what it is to be time-pressed.

What I loved about this book is that it:

1) fulfilled the promise of its title: it really does give solid ideas for spiritual disciplines that don't take much time, and,
2) it never acts like these small steps are forever going to be enough to satisfy one's thirst for God.

But here's the thing: you've got to start somewhere. And here's one thing more: there are so many times when you have to RE-start somewhere. After an illness, during your kids' infancy, after a discouragement, a tragedy, a time of dryness . . . there are so many seasons in our lives where we get spiritually out of shape, and want to start attending to the Lord again, but are as weak in our devotional muscles as a post-op patient is in her physical muscles.

And no one would tell a mom who had just had a c-section to run a mile. And maybe it's good for everyone to be healthy enough to run a mile. But you can't start there. A mom who's just had a c-section does well to walk from her bed to the toilet and back.

And we do well to spend five minutes trying one of the excellent exercises that Andrew Yee recommends in this book. It's super-short, guys. It's super-dense with good stuff. It's free. You should read it. :)

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"Let Us Keep the Feast: Christmas & Advent"

Maybe some people are sophisticated and blasé about this kind of thing, but I have to admit that when I saw this preview of the cover of "Let Us Keep the Feast", my reaction was more of a high-pitched "squeee!"

I'm so excited about this book; it's the book I wish I had ten years ago, as Adam and I were starting our lives together as adults, setting up the rhythms of our household. Our hope was (and is) to always hold in our hearts and minds the truth that our family's life is a part of the life of the church, that our worship of God on Sunday should naturally flow into our work-a-day lives, showing itself in our love for each other, for our children, for our neighbors.

That's why I love the church year: it constantly reminds me of God's love. Its feasts and fasts keep the gospel story constantly before my eyes. In my cooking and housekeeping, in my reading and my correspondence, in so many small customs and traditions, the church year is always pointing my eyes back towards Jesus.

The authors in this book have done such a splendid job of laying out those customs and traditions - and the reasons behind them - to the reader. I was so privileged to get to work with them. Editing this book was an education and a pleasure.

The first volume of "Let Us Keep the Feast" will be available on November 1st. I can't wait!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell


Looking at the picture now, those two books look pretty funny together. One is my current just-for-fun read: "The Farther Shore" by Christie Golden. It's the second half of a continuation of Star Trek: Voyager, and much better than the last Star Trek continuation novel I tried.

The knitting is a light, lace-weight cardigan - the Nevis cardigan this time. I liked my Whisper cardigan so much, I wanted to make a similar cardigan with shorter sleeves and a bit more length in the body. The yarn is Tosh Lace in Spectrum, a lovely Christmas gift from my brother and sister-in-law.

There are more book-and-yarn-rich posts to be found over at Ginny's place.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Links: just . . . lots and lots of links

Inspirational Romance Ratings - Naomi Rawling's new review blog - looks like a great place to find new books!

"How J.K. Rowling was exposed as Robert Galbraith": fascinating!

"Time heals all wounds . . . or something": really good advice for helping a grieving friend.

"Blessing Your Blessings":
Happily, as Christians, we know we're not just turning them out into the void. When they leave us, we can turn them over to Someone. And in a way, it's actually a relief for us to remember that our children's spiritual success and strength doesn't depend completely on us. We do the best we can, but after a certain point, our kids make the decision whether they are going to be open to God's grace or not. We should pray for them every day, we should pray with them as much as possible, and it's a great idea to also pray over them.
"Elisabeth Leseur's 'A Little Essay on the Christian Life' for her nephew: III, the active adult life":
Approach our Savior without anxiety as the friend he is, able to understand and share everything, with whom you can talk about your joys and sorrows, your temptations, and even the doubts that he can remove, your human plans and spiritual desires.
The nine circles of Hell from Dante's Inferno recreated in Lego - wow!

"Quick Takes for Married People": Good stuff.

"Enlighten Me Not":
The problem with the Enlightenment was that it was over-simple. Human beings just aren’t that neat (neither is the universe, as we’ve learned since). Human beings, and the universe, are like Doctor Who’s Tardis, bigger inside than outside. As you go deeper in, you discover new levels of complexity.

What interesting things are you finding 'round the Web?

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

books I want to write someday

1) Surely You Are the People and Wisdom Will Die With You: Sarcasm in the Bible.

2) I Am God's Toddler: a Mother's Anthropology.

3) That I Might Fight Befriended: Fear and Faith.

4)  Pick a Sinner, Any Sinner: a Primer on Courtship and Marriage. (Hat-tip to my mom for the title.)

5)  To Valiant Hearts Triumphant.  I just love that phrase. Not sure what would be in the book, but I'm pretty sure it calls for romance, duels, and maybe some hardcore theology. Fiction.

There! Now I have my next decade plotted out for me.

What books do you want to write?

-Jessica Snell

"To a woman beset by many tasks"

Just came across this gem last night; it's St. Frances de Sales' advice to a woman feeling harrassed by the multiplicity of her tasks. After agreeing that having many little things to do is as irritating as swarms of flies, Francis says:
My God, Madame, we will soon be in eternity, and then we will see how all the affairs of this world are such little things and how little it matters whether they turn out or not. At this time, nevertheless, we apply ourselves to them as if they were great things. When we were little children, with what eagerness did we put together little bits of tile, wood, and mud, to make houses and small buildings! And if someone destroyed them we were very grieved and tearful at it; but now we know well that it all mattered very little. One day it will be the same with us in Heaven, when we will see that our concerns in this world were truly only child's play.
I do not want to take away the care that we must have regarding these little trifles, because God has entrusted them to us in this world for exercise; but I would indeed like to take away the passion and anxiety of this care. Let us do our child's play, because we are children; but also, let us not trouble ourselves to death in playing it. And if someone destroys our little houses and little designs, let us not torment ourselves greatly at this; because also, when this night comes in which it will be necessary for us to take shelter - I mean to say, death - all these little houses will be of no use to us; we will have to take our shelter in the house of our Father.
"Let us do our child's play, because we are children"! How true! The more I read him, the more I am convinced that St. Francis is a kin to C. S. Lewis; there is the same sort of clarity and charity in his writing.

The quotation above is from "Thy Will Be Done; Letters to Persons in the World."

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell