Hope in the Darkness

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Like so many others, I spent a lot of time last week trying to process what happened in Charleston. When I heard about the shootings, all I could think was, “Not again. Not again. Not again.” My prayers were quiet, desperate: Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Any words I tried to write down felt inadequate, too small to even begin to address what happened. Sometimes I feel ashamed about the world I’ve helped to create for the kids I work with and minister to each week.  We let the hate grow too tall. It’s spreading like wildfire, and somehow we still like to pat ourselves on the back when we attempt to put it out with squirt guns.

Yesterday I went to church and spent the morning with some of my favorite kids. They were the same kids I see almost every Sunday—the kids I play with and talk to about Jesus. The same kids whose noses I’ve wiped and bloody knees I’ve cleaned and bandaged (because my job is glamorous like that at times). But yesterday they gave me the most precious gift. They reminded me that all is not lost, because they still have time to do what we have not been able to accomplish yet. They gave me hope.

I don’t have kids yet, so I can’t say that I would even know where to begin when it comes to talking to children about what happened in Charleston, what keeps happening over and over again all over the world. But when I spent time with those kids yesterday, I was reminded of their desire to laugh and play together. I was reminded of their ability to look at other people without judgment and preconceived notions of what is right and normal. I was reminded of their honesty and innocence and fearlessness. I was also reminded of my responsibility to talk to them about love.

I want the kids I work with to know what it means to love people—really love people. I want them to know that they are children of God and that the same God that made them also made the kid in their class whose skin is a different color. He made the kid who struggles to read and the smartest kid in the class. He made the bully and the victim.  He made them and he loves them. And he calls us to do the same.

Us grown-ups have a made a big mess of the job God gave us, that much is obvious. But these kids have so much work left to do—they can change the world. If you don’t know how to start talking to your kids about what happened in Charleston, start talking to them about love. Make sure they know they can make a difference. Make sure they know that love wins in the end.

We let the hate grow too tall. Those kids gave me hope that the love can grow even taller.

June Reading List

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1. Department of Speculation by Jenny Offill.  This short, quirky novel was recommended to me over and over again, and to be honest I’m still trying to process how I feel about it. Department of Speculation charts the course of a marriage from the couple (only ever referred to as “the husband” and “the wife”) meeting and falling in love to falling apart and attempting to learn how to hold a life together. The best thing about this novel is the raw, poetic way in which the wife tells her story. Every sentence is carefully crafted, capturing both the ordinary and the extraordinary (the good and the awful) parts of marriage in a way that makes you want to keep reading.

2. Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin. Here’s the thing about Gretchen Rubin’s books—I feel like someone is reading me a textbook, but also like my best friend is the one reading it to me. And she really, really wants me to embrace and experience my very best self. Better than Before is an exploration of habits—how they affect us, how they form, and how we can develop the habits we need to have the kind of life that we want. I found it extremely helpful and really felt like I learned something about myself along the way. Definitely worth a read.

3. Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann Mah.  In this wonderful food memoir, Ann Mah tells the story of the year she spent alone in Paris while her husband, a diplomat, was stationed in Iraq.  During her time there, she explored the origins of classic French recipes, while trying to balance the thrill of living in one of the most magical cities in the world with desperately missing her husband. And she ate. And I do love a book that describes good food.

Friday Links

Friday Links are a round-up of my favorite posts/videos/projects/photos from around the web.

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Happy Friday…finally! We’ve all over the place lately (including seeing Taylor Swift with my sister—so much FUN), so we could not be happier about the fact that we have absolutely nothing to do this weekend! We’ll be hanging out at home, reading, taking naps, and enjoying being lazy. I hope you all have a fun and relaxing weekend! XO

For your weekend reading pleasure…

A Weekend in D.C.

We headed to D.C. this past weekend to celebrate Bryan’s 26th birthday. Bryan really wanted to go to a major league baseball game for his birthday, so it was the perfect opportunity to visit a new city and hang out with some friends who moved there last year.  We had SO much fun. We went to the zoo, hung out around Georgetown, visited the National Cathedral, ate incredible food (SO MUCH FOOD), and saw the Nationals win. Best of all, we made sweet memories with people we love dearly. It was the perfect way to celebrate Bryan’s birthday. It’s going to be hard to go back to work today! IMG_6022

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Friday Links

Friday Links are a round-up of my favorite posts/videos/projects/photos from around the web.  

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Happy Friday, friends! Friday Links are back (May was crazy!), and Bryan are I are currently in D.C. visiting some friends and celebrating his birthday. We’ve got tickets to the Nationals game tonight, and other than that we’re just exploring, eating, and hanging out with people we love—the makings of a pretty wonderful weekend. Hope you all have a fantastic weekend, too! XO

For your weekend reading pleasure…

  • “This is Marriage” from Sometimes Sweet.
  • This post from Scott Sauls about why the church needs children.
  • These words from Joanna at Cup of Jo on grief. Bryan and I have lost two grandparents in two months, and these words she shared from Nicholas Wolterstorff’s memoir struck me as particularly true: Grief is existential testimony to the worth of the one loved. That worth abides. So I own my grief. I do not try to put it behind me, to get over it, to forget it… Every lament is a love-song.
  • Some cooking tips from celebrity chefs.

*Photo Source

Summer Bucket List

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Summer is without-a-doubt my favorite season, and there are always so many things I want to squeeze into these three or four glorious months. Here are a few of the things I’m looking forward to this summer.

What’s on your summer bucket list? 

1. Go to a baseball game.

2. Go on a hike

3. Play in the ocean.

4. Spend a day in the mountains.

5. Go river tubing.

6. Explore a new place.

7. Try a new restaurant.

8. Go to an outdoor concert or movie.

9. Finally attempt to make paella.

10. Have a picnic on the quad in Chapel Hill.

11. Surprise Bryan.

12. Celebrate turning 27 with people I love.

13. Go star gazing.

14. Plan a fun brunch with the girls.

15. Plant an herb garden.

16. Learn something new.

17. Eat outside as often as possible.

18. Host a dinner party.

19. Read at least 5 books.

20. Do something adventurous.

Currently {June}

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Reading: The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah. Eh. I don’t love this book so far. I usually really enjoy Kristen Hannah’s novels (think easy, fun beach read), but this one is not engaging me at all. The Nightingale is about two sisters in France during WWII, so someone who loves historical fiction might really enjoy it. I’m going to keep going, so more on this later!

Watching: Friday Night Lights. I know I’m a little behind here, but Bryan and I wanted a new show to watch together and heard good things about this one. We’re only about 4 episodes in, and so far I feel like I’m watching Remember the Titans in television form (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). I honestly don’t know how I feel about it yet. I want to love the characters more (which will probably come with time), and I also want there to be just a little bit of comic relief. It’s so intense all the time! The verdict’s still out on this one for me.

Listening: Mumford and Son/Wilder Mind. This has a lot more to do with my husband than me, but we’ve had this album on repeat since it was released. And I’ll admit—it’s pretty good driving (and writing!) music.

Anticipating: A summer of adventures. Summer is my favorite season, and (relatively speaking) our schedule is a little more relaxed these days. We have lots of big and small adventures planned, and my goal is to soak up as much fun, friends, and new experiences as possible before our schedule gets super busy again in August. What’s on your summer bucket list?

Remembering: My grandmother. My sweet, strong grandmother passed away last week after a very difficult couple of years, and my family celebrated her life and legacy on Saturday. When I think about my grandmother, I remember her as a woman of valor. She was brave, caring, intelligent, loving, and deeply passionate about her faith. One of the last memories I have of my grandmother is visiting her in the hospital. She could barely speak, but she sang the words to “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” with the confidence and security of someone who knows them in her heart to be true. She leaves behind a beautiful legacy and an example of the kind of woman I hope to become.