Monday, November 13, 2017

A Links Post! (and a small update)

Hi folks! 

Below, you can find a regular links post (I usually call them weekly links, but let's be honest: they're more like biweekly links).  But quickly, before getting to that, I just wanted to apologize about not having another entry in my blog series on writing a rule of life, The Rhythm of Our Days

The truth about having a rule of life is that it gives me guidance about what to say "yes" to each day, but it also gives me boundaries for my work. It tells me, "Do this first and then, if you have time, do that."

Everyone knows that there isn't enough time in a day to do everything. My rule just helps me to be honest about that. It tells me when to work, and when to stop working.

And this last week, there was time to do a lot, but there wasn't time to work on this series. I hope there will be time this week (there might be), but if not this week, there will almost certainly be time next week, during Thanksgiving break.

Thanks for hanging in there with me while I work on this! Now, onto the links!

-This looks like an excellent writing contest. (Free entry, and a great prize!)

-I don't know about you, but there are a lot of people in my life right now going through loss. Here's something helpful: Grieving Like God.

-If you are a Hamilton fan, you'll probably enjoy this collection of excellent fan-art--one drawing for each song of the musical.

-Ah, a properly admiring article about a book series I love. More people should read Lee and Miller. (Their books are kinda like Georgette Heyer in space.)

-Tim Keller on the book of Proverbs. I loved this quotation in particular:
Just as the Book of Psalms is the Lord’s Prayer applied practically to every possible situation and condition of our hearts, so the Book of Proverbs is the Ten Commandments applied to every possible situation in our daily lives.

-Sex in Movies. Was John Piper Right All Along?

-And, finally, an appreciation of an excellent actor, who played a vital role in one of my favorite TV series ever: When Robert Guillaume Played Aaron Sorkin's First Great Leader.

I hope you have a great week, folks!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This post contains Amazon affiliate links; if you purchase a book from this link, I receive a small percentage of the purchase price. I will probably use it to buy more books. (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Discerning the Need for a Rule of Life

I wrote my first Rule of Life about a year ago, but my journey towards a Rule really began long before that.* 

In preparation for this blog series, I’ve been going back over my journal entries from 2016. And I’m finding that my path toward writing a Rule was even more rocky and twisty than I remember it being—and I remember it being a pretty rocky and twisty path!

Like many big changes, this one was prompted by what initially seem like negative things. Things like: 

  • dissatisfaction
  • a lack of peace
  • an inability to get everything done

But, as I started paying attention to what I was doing each day and how I was doing it and—maybe most importantly—why I was doing it, it became clear that what was really driving me was my desire for good things. Things like:

  • time with the Lord everyday (both quality and quantity)
  • time with my husband and kids everyday (both quality and quantity)
  • a desire to write good things (i.e., fulfill my vocation)
  • a desire for a peaceful home
  • a desire for health (mental and physical)

I don’t think the “dissatisfaction” would have felt so much like starter’s pistol if I’d felt it several years earlier. In fact, I know I felt it several years earlier, and it didn’t have the same jump-starting result back then.

But several years ago, I was in the middle of a “survival” season. I had lots and lots and lots and lots and lots (okay, maybe not that many—but still LOTS) of little kids, and I was their full-time caregiver. Yeah, there were things in my life that made me dissatisfied, but I knew I didn’t have room to arrange them in any super-ideal fashion. 

(Not that that stopped me from trying.)

And then we went through some family health crisesone of them minethat took up almost all our extra time and energy and attention. I just did not have the wherewhithal to make any big changes.

But then the kids got older

The kids eventually all grew up to be school-aged children. Their needs changed. Other things changed. Various energy-sucking situations changed and resolved. And now, I did have room to make some changes. I did have the time. I did have the physical energy. 

There were ongoing things to be dealt with, sure. But the crises were over, at least for a bit. 

It was time to figure out how to handle this glorious, energy-rich, potential-full time of life called middle-age.**

This was a new time of life. And I wasn’t living it well.

And I really, really wanted to.

So I started experimenting.

Next week’s blog post will be about those first few experiments, and about the way they prompted me to start keeping track of my days. (Because eventually I learned that, if I wanted to change my life, I first had to have an accurate idea of what my life was. That is, I needed data. That is, I needed to observe and record.)

But before I finish off this blog post, I need to be honest, and share the one realization that really, really started me on this journey. It's particular to me, and if you take a similar journey, your final straw will probably be a different one.

But here's mine. I found myself writing these few paragraphs (edited for clarity), right after I reread my journal entries from the time when the children were all still babies and toddlers:

…I'm realizing that back then, I just longed for an hour or two to write, and it was absolutely life-giving it was when I was given those hours. 
Now, it feels like I long for just an hour or two to write, but other, lesser things stop me.
I think this means I’ve made a mistake, somewhere.

It was that last bit that finally started me on my journey: the realization that I could now—if I really wanted to—do the things I’d been telling myself for years that I wanted to do.

There are lots of times in life where you can't do what you want. I know that. I've lived that. I'm sure I'll live it again.

But, writing out those journal paragraphs above made me realize: I'm actually facing a real choice here. Those things I wanted to do? I could really do them now.

And I wasn’t.

That meant I’d gone wrong somewhere. 

And I was determined to change direction. I was determined to make it right.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

*To be completely honest, I can find journal entries about a “Rule of Life” at least as far back as 2010. And I know I’d been introduced to the concept well before that—probably at least as early as 2006 or so, which was about when I first read Holly Pierlot’s book A Mother’s Rule of Life

But this blog series is about the Rule that stuck.

**No, really. I’m convinced we don’t value the potential of middle age nearly enough in our culture. It’s all made clear in the middle stanza of this Gerard Manley Hopkins poem, if you want to see what I’m getting at.  

(Bonus! That poem also contains one of the answers to the always-fun “Where-Did-C.-S.-Lewis-Steal-THAT-Narnia-Line-Or-Concept-From?” game.)

This post contains Amazon affiliate links; if you purchase a book from this link, I receive a small percentage of the purchase price. I will probably use it to buy more books. (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

the rhythms of our days - announcing a new series

a fascinating book brought by an attendee!

This last Saturday, I got to give a talk to a local church group about celebrating the Christian year at home. It was lovely, and one of the wonderful people who came brought along the recipe book up in the header, A Continual Feast. I looked through it with her before the talk started, and it's now definitely on my list of things to buy. It's full of seasonal recipes, interspersed with lots of commentary on actually celebrating the church year. Once I get it, I see many new delicious traditions in my future...

Anyway, the talk itself was really fun. The group was interested, and asked great questions, and talking with them reminded (again, some more) just how much I love this stuff.

I love the rhythm of the church year. I love ordering my life around the church's annual retelling of the life of Christ. I love ordering my smaller story around that bigger, truer, better story. I love the reminder that, as one of God's people, my small story is a part of that big, true, good story.

Orderly Days: on Writing a Rule of Life
Following the Christian calendar reminds me that time is part of God's good creation. And during this past year, I've been concentrating pretty hard on the order of my days. Almost exactly a year ago, after months of preparation, I took a one-day retreat in order to pray through a Rule of Life for myself. 

And so now I've had almost a whole year of practicing my Rule. 

Which means that I'm just about ready to start blogging about it.

So, coming up on this blog, starting next week (I hope!), you'll find a new series about writing (and keeping, and living) a Rule of Life. I'll talk about how I'm ordering my days so that I have space for all the good things. And also about how adding in good things helps to crowd out the bad.

I'll talk about searching for a peaceful rhythm, and what that looks like, and how to make it work.

And also I'll talk about what to do when it doesn't.

I hope you'll come back and join me next week!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This post contains Amazon affiliate links; if you purchase a book from this link, I receive a small percentage of the purchase price. I will probably use it to buy more books. (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Weekly Links!


-When Masculinity Turns Toxic.

-I love this: Why You Should Say Bad Things About My Books.

-Yes! It can be worth consuming stories with worldviews you disagree with--but you should always do it with discernment, and without expecting them to be perfect: The Doctor Doesn't Believe in the Devil.

-Both this article and the article after it I found thanks to Tim Motte, so my thanks to him: Tolkien's Map.

-And: This excellent twin review comparing Rothfuss and Tolkien.

-Sometimes it's just nice to read someone say good things about a good thing you already love: "The Princess Bride" at 30.

-For those of you with high-schoolers: did you know your kid can apply to be an intern at NASA?

-Pilgrimage to the National Parks: Awe, Wonder, and What's Missing.

-Helpful: Homemade Halloween Hacks for Parents in a Hurry.

I hope what's left of your Sunday is peaceful and restful.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Weekly Links!

photo credit: Betsy Barber.


-I remember reading this in Touchstone years ago, but it was good to reread this fascinating theory about the Chronicles of Narnia: Narnia's Secret.

-A good reminder for my fellow writers: The Folly of Self-Rejection.

-This blog post is full of such lovely food ideas: Lifestyle Lessons.

-Good stuff from Wesley Hill: An Impatience with Biblical Exegesis.

-More helpful advice for writers, on what to do when you get The Call from an agent: All About Author Etiquette

-I already wanted to read this book, because I already knew I like the author, but this post made me really want to read this book: The Big Idea: David Walton.

-So, as Anne Kennedy always says, "struggling" is the Christian word for failure.  Here, Russell Moore gets even more incisive about our common attitude towards "struggling" with sin: Are You "Struggling" With Sin?

-This sermon on divine omniscience, by Dr. Fred Sanders, is really good. I particularly appreciated his explanation of what Ps. 139 would mean in the mouth of Adam, vs. what it would mean in the mouth of Jesus, and then what being completely known by God means for us, whose life is hid in Christ: Divine Omniscience.

I hope what's left of your Sunday is peaceful and restful.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Weekly Links: Growing, Eating, Praying, and more!

some very cool baby shower decorations


-For all of us who aren't kids, but are still working hard on becoming really cool adults: Quick Thoughts on Comparison, and the Angst of Growing Up Slowly.  

-This sounds like an awesome diet plan: I Ate Hundreds of Bowls of Queso and Somehow Lost 10 Pounds.

-And...I really want to go and work here for a few days! If you're in France, maybe you can go and volunteer and tell me how it was...? For 20 Years the French Have Been Building a Medieval Castle Using Medieval Techniques, and the Result Is Incredible.

-And it'd hardly be a links post without hearing from Anne...but, seriously, guys, go hear from Anne (and add her dad to your prayers): It's Okay if You Can't Pray.  

(ETA: I've been corresponding with my grandma, a great woman of prayer, about this post. I think it is always good to pray. I think what comforts me about Anne's post is the reminder that God will still do His good work, even when we fail to ask Him for it. But "help, Lord," is always a good prayer--even if we're not capable of anything more. So, I'm grateful for Anne's reminder that God does not depend on us, and I'm also grateful for my grandma's reminder that it's good to pray anyway.)

-I really like where this guy ended up in his last line: VidAngel Let Me Remove the Sex from Game of Thrones, So Why Do I Still Feel Like a Pervert?

-Yes, this is about working from home, but for me the most interesting part was the section about how hard it was for the scientist to find a group to study that met his requirements: Why Working From Home Should Be Standard Practice.

I hope what's left of your Sunday is peaceful and restful.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

on Liturgy, and on Saying True Things

I am thinking about church, again.

I'm thinking again about how one of the good things about the liturgy is that, at least once a week, for a little over an hour, I get to say only true things.

Things like:

Most merciful Father, we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed.

Things like:

Have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.

Things like:

Glory be to God on high!
And on earth peace, goodwill towards men.

I say so many dumb things throughout the week. So many sinful things.

And so, it is so good to have one hour, once a week, where all the things coming out of my mouth are right, and righteous.

Someday, when we see Him as He is, we will be like Him.

And all that we say will be good.

Come soon, Lord Jesus!