Friday, October 25, 2013

7 Quick Takes: autumn in Austin, hilarious dog videos, words I wrote -- and didn't write -- this week and more!

Autumn has arrived in Austin, thanks be to God!

lovely mums from a sweet woman


  by Robert Frost

O hushed October morning mild, 
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall; 
To-morrow's wind, if it be wild, 
Should waste them all. 
The crows above the forest call;         
To-morrow they may form and go. 
O hushed October morning mild, 
Begin the hours of this day slow, 
Make the day seem to us less brief. 
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,         
Beguile us in the way you know; 
Release one leaf at break of day; 
At noon release another leaf; 
One from our trees, one far away; 
Retard the sun with gentle mist;         
Enchant the land with amethyst. 
Slow, slow! 
For the grapes' sake, if they were all, 
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost, 
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—         
For the grapes' sake along the wall.

Words I wrote online this week:

  • The roads that break us at Catapult* magazine: A report from the convoluted infrastructure of Austin, TX for the Wheels issue.  Also, a frank confession of my issue with road rage. tiny stories bonus features this week because it never happened.  Yep, just one week after declaring my intention for this series to be taken seriously, I just skipped a week.  Well, in my defense, I've been working three jobs this month.  Plus, the whole mom and wife gig so something had to give, right?  

This week I'm cooking up a fun Halloween-themed edition of tiny stories, so get off my case already!  (oh, you're not upset?  your world didn't stop because I slacked off here at the blog? well, okay, then.)
Good words online from other people this week:
  • George MacDonald and the "meaning" of your art at Diary of an Arts Pastor: Words both clear and beautiful from MacDonald for all of us who wish to be true imaginers. "Not what he pleases, but what he can. If he be not a true man, he will draw evil out of the best; we need not mind how he treats any work of art! If he be a true man, he will imagine true things: what matter whether I meant them or not?..."
  • Now We Are Five by David Sedaris at the New Yorker: David Sedaris wrote an essay in The New Yorker about his sister Tiffany, and her recent passing.
  • By the way, I enjoy weekly link posts.  One of my favorites -- the one I got this cool model car photograph link -- is the weekly {bits & pieces} post at Like Mother, Like Daughter.
We're headed out this weekend to our third Christ Church parish retreat!  So fun to be able to spend large amounts of time with people we want to know better.  Also, quality opportunities for good laughs, raucous sport, meaningful learning, and memorable baptisms in the lake. Excited!
This is hilarious.  Enjoy!



A beauty and grace-filled weekend for us all, dear ones.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

for my brother Todd on his birthday

The missionary neighbors who lived upstairs rolled us around the yard in their shipping barrel.

Our vagabond days*

for my brother on his birthday

We'd hide in those years, Todd and me, inside the best places
in the parsonage —sneaking up from our first floor, certain

mother or others didn't know. While she vacuumed, we tip-toed
up the back stairs of the mud room peering for Lady Chatterly**

the African Parrot chattering Bible verses to her missionary family
whose teenaged son shot BB pellets into our father's tomato garden.

We lived as sheltered vagabonds then, roaming the church halls
in shared clothes from the missionary barrel, slipping through the cribs hung

on nursery walls, the wooden bars for a make believe zoo. The church bell at
noon announced our father's lunch at the formica table in our little kitchen.

Later, in the low glow of a Mickey Mouse night light, our day tucked
in with bed time prayers. I prayed with Daddy for Jesus to come

into my heart -- and yours.  When you decided to postpone your salvation
I chattered night-light altar calls from my bed to yours. Only half mindful

of your wellness, electric whispers in the passion of my conversion, more due
to the fact that you were my first -- and best -- friend. 
*adapted structure from a poem by by Bernadette McBride
**where my memory fails, I make up a few details

Friday, October 18, 2013

7 Quick Takes: grandparent outtakes, Kendra's Cabaret surprise, delicious apples and more!

Kendra performed in McCallum Highschool's cabaret.  Both of her brothers and their girlfriends showed up to surprise her during dinner.  We just happened to get the perfect shots!

All of us together after the great show
This is what you do when you're the lame parent who misses the
announcement to get nice words about your kid printed in the program.
It was a good Team Kendra effort, don't you think?

Blessed, blessed rain.  Wednesday was 57 degrees!  I wore a sweatshirt.  The girls got to wear their boots.  One day I even wore jeans AND a sweater.  With socks and shoes, even!  I know my joy is the stress of people who live in flash flood areas.  I'm sad about that; I really am. (also about the people who had tickets for ACL's last day of shows.)

But I can't stop saying it anyway:  Blessed, blessed rain!!

--- 3 ---
This week I wrote words online:

The Roads That Break Us at Catapult* MagazineA report from the convoluted infrastructure of Austin, Texas for the Wheels issue.

When did you first notice the one you love?:  I promise you'll love watching my octogenarian grandparents give me marriage advice on the day of their 67th wedding anniversary. 

Tiny stories bonus features:

Bonus Feature #2: Douglas and Joyce Hill (aka, Gr & Gr)
October 16, 1946

Bonus feature #2: A Google Hangout outtake.

Bonus Feature #3: My brother Ryan caught this angle.  
Please notice my dad's reflection in the mirror.

Bonus feature #4:
I did, in fact, google top movies in the 1940's because my grandfather couldn't remember which movies they saw:  Most Popular Feature Films Released 1940-1949
--- 5 ---
This week other people wrote good words online:

Corinna Nicolaou of "One None Gets Some" on episode 1 of the Two Cities podcast:  Nicolaou talks graciously and energetically about her ambitious project, a blog designed to be a platform to share the results of a project she started two years ago: an exploration of religion from the perspective of someone who grew up without any (statisticians call this segment of the population “Nones”). She decided to start with Christianity and see where it took her.

Banksy on the streets of New York at The Guardian: "The internet lacerated itself for not buying Banskys at a 10,000% discount. But would you recognize art if it wasn't marked as such?Banksy, who can't write the word "elephant" on a water tanker without having it crated off and auctioned, made something that was fake – until the magic moment it turned out to be real."

Banksy and the Economy of Grace at Think Christian: I enjoyed this follow up to the Banksy pop up sale.  Yes, the kingdom of heaven is definitely like this.

--- 6 ---

This week's surprise gift came in the form of apples and cider donuts hand delivered from Georgia.  I couldn't help it; I had to make applesauce.

I've got apples and cider on my mind...


A beauty and grace-filled weekend for us all, dear ones.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

when did you first notice the one you love? [tiny stories #5]

Today is my grandparents' 67th wedding anniversary.  They married two weeks after Grandpa came home from the Army, the last two years in Japan (He landed just after the bomb in Hiroshima).  I wanted to ask them some questions about being married for a long time to the same person.  I also couldn't remember the story about when they first met.

“It does not matter that we cannot fathom this mystery. The only real problem comes when we think that we have.” ― Madeleine L'EngleTwo-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage

I changed the story prompt for this week when I was talking with my grandparents on their 67th anniversary.  I promise you'll love to hear their thoughts about marriage.

Two observations:

1.  I thought my face would be in this video.
2. When I'm talking to my family, my harsh nasal NY accent is 'uge!


Do you remember the first time you noticed the person you love?
 Where were you? What was it like?
Tell us a tiny story.

Monday, October 14, 2013

7 quick takes: scooter surprise, my take on a priest's authority, blog bonus features, and more!

God's been surprising us right and left with generous gifts and provision.  This past week the surprise came in the form of a candy apple-red scooter. I don't know anything about scooters to commend this one to any aficionados out there. All I know is this one is sure pretty.  And dear, generous, thoughtful friends offered it to us at an almost criminally-low price.  

Also, that it's super fun to ride under the Texas moon with my guy.  

Last week I wrote an essay for catapult* magazine's Authority issue:  Have Mercy.

Since our friend Peter was ordained into the Anglican communion in February I've been trying to find words to articulate the impact of the liturgy had on me -- a preacher's-kid.  This was my first attempt.   I wanted to be able to share the memory with Peter and Shannon's sweet children because they're too little (one still in his momma's bulging belly during the ceremony) to remember.  But when the days get tough as they grow older -- when they might feel some resentment for having to share their Daddy with people they barely know -- I was hoping my words about their daddy flattened to the ground in submission to God's call on his life would help them feel like a participant in the call rather than a victim of it.  

I'll keep trying to get the words right, Lucy and Emmett. And when Brian's turn comes, I'm hoping the profound healing God's given me the past ten years will make a way for me to fully participate in Brian's own call. 

May it be so, dear Jesus.

Unfortunately, I don't have a photo from Peter's ordination so this will have to do.
 Two priests and and an aspiring priest walk into a photo booth.

Did you happen to see the short video I posted from a chat my sisters and I had this past week.  The one where we shared tiny stories about the meaning of our names?  

Well, we think it's pretty cute so check it out if you haven't yet.  And here's a couple bonus features from the conversation:

Bonus feature #1:  The woman on the far left is our Aunt Helen Grace Hendricks.
Alicia's middle name, Grace, is after her.  She was an amazing woman.

Bonus feature #2:  My niece Elise Hope -- who turned 5 months last week --
makes a cameo appearance on the video.  This is the photo I ask Alicia about
during our conversation.  Does she not look ecstatic to be 5 MONTHS OLD?!?

Bonus feature #3: Bambi's girlfriend's name is F_ _ _ _ _ _?
Find out her name and why we talked about it this week by watching the conversation here.

I'm pretty serious about these Tiny Stories posts.  I'm kind of hoping they'll catch on.  In case you're interested, here's this week's question:

Tell a story about one of your most memorable teachers (good or bad).

(You never know when I might ask YOU to join me on a Google Hangout to tell your story.)

This past week I spoke to another gathering of moms with young children.  Every time I do this I fight the urge equally to laugh and cry.  Laugh at the hilarious season of life this hive of energy (babies and preschoolers) is and cry at my memory of sheer exhaustion.  Press on, good moms.  Grace, grace, grace over your heads.

I hope I was able to give some encouragement.  For me, the gorgeous trip into the Texas Hill Country on a (relatively) crisp fall day made me glad. 

And the church building!

St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Wimberley, TX

Links to good stuff I read online this past week:

  • New FREE shopping list app, Favado at Cha-Ching on a Shoestring: Money-saving bloggers -- including my own sister -- helped develop and run this free grocery shopping list app that allows you to compare prices at stores in your area at a glance, search for deals on what you need, and create a shopping list with available coupons.

  • A Quick Discussion with Ryan Dening at design studio blog Daring Boy: Our friend Ryan gives a practical and encouraging interview about his life as an artist, including wise words like this..."Being a concept artist is similar to any design related endeavour that you do for hire. The most demanding and difficult thing can be that you have to come up with something every day regardless of whether or not you feel creative, whether or not you are interested in the job content, or if the feedback a client or boss is giving you is completely the opposite direction you want to go."

  • Touching Death: Mourning Physically Through Burial by John Cuddeback at The Front Porch Republic: "Everyone seemed to understand and be drawn in. The atmosphere was a unique blend of sorrow, communion, and hope. One young mother, nursling in arm, didn’t wait for a shovel, and grabbing a handful of earth tossed in her contribution. Children were as engaged in the filling as they had been in marveling at the hole. One young man shared with me as he shoveled that he remembered working for my father clearing ground many years ago. He said it was good to move earth with him one more time." 

  • Wendell Berry: Poet and Prophet at Bill  A wonderful recorded-live interview between Bill Moyers and the mad farmer. (Thanks to my sister, Alicia, for the link!)

--- 7 ---

Brian and I are participating in Free Austin 2013!  You can visit for information on The Summit and other campaign events that focus on finding solutions to human trafficking.


A beauty and grace-filled weekend for us all, dear ones.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

the meaning of your name [tiny stories #4]

This week two of my sisters and I spend a few minutes talking about the meaning of our names and why my niece's middle name is Hope. (pardon my low-tech skills, please!)

"So don’t discount the power of sharing simple stories. 
  A vibrant, healthy culture is sustained, in part, by sharing oral stories."  
(from Beauty Will Save the World at Front Porch Republic)


Do you know the meaning of your name, and why your parents chose it? Do you think it suits you?
 What about your children’s names? Pets?
Tell us a tiny story.

Monday, October 07, 2013

What I'm Into Lately, September 2013

In September I had the privilege of visiting Imagine Art in Austin two times.  Once when they shared table space and wi-fi so I could work on an article and once for the opening of their exhibit This Ability.  There is good work happening here!

From the book pile

29  The Golden Apples of the Sun, by Ray Bradury  (Subterranean Press; 1990. 248 pages) 

My friend Laurel commented her current reading list on the July edition of this blog post.  Laurel's the kind of reader I want to be more like so I pretty much copy and pasted her book list into the online library catalog search bar.  

This was my favorite recommendation of them all.  I've never read Bradbury (for shame) and it's been way too long since I've read a compilation of short stories.  This was the perfect way to get back into both.

My favorites short stories from this title:  "The Golden Apples of the Sun", "The Golden Kite, the Silver Wind", "The Garbage Collector", "The Big Black and White Game"

Excerpt from "The Big Black and White Game" to demonstrate Bradbury's pithy and marvelous way of description:
"The people filled the stands behind the wire screen, waiting. Us kids, dripping from the lake, ran between the white cottages, past the resort hotel, screaming, and sat on the bleachers making wet bottom marks. The hot sun beat down through the tall oak trees around the baseball diamond. Our fathers and mothers, in golf pants and light summer dresses, scolded us and made us sit still."

30  The War of the Worldsby H. G. Wells, illustrated by Edward Gorey  (New York Review of Books, 1960. 251 pages) 

Another recommendation from my friend Laurel.  Not that I'd never heard of this book before, just never considered reading it.  Even though the plot is intriguing, my favorite part of this book is the illustrations by Edward Gorey.  The cover on my library copy is so, so fun. 

Also, anyone out there confuse H. G. Wells, Orson Welles and George Orwell?

31  The Best Spiritual Writing 2013edited by Philip Zaleski with introduction by Stephen Prothero  (Penguin Books, 2012. 235 pages) 

I always think I'm going to like these types of anthologies more than I actually do.  Still, I love essays.  Always have, always will.

32  Horoscopes for the Dead: Poemsby Billy Collins (Random House; 2011. 103 pages) 

I'm not sure anything by the former US poet laureate will match the first crush I had on his work in Sailing Alone Around the Room.  At the same time I know I'll never get tired of this man's voice.  He manages to combine a wit -- both friendly and dry -- with splashes of boyish imagination that allows the reader to feel like they're getting in on his joke.  He's a friendly poet -- not one to leave his reader feeling dull and out of the loop.  

I like his words, but every once in a while I wish he'd reach a little bit higher -- deeper? -- for the transcendence washing over all of us.

One of my favorites from this collection:  "Cemetery Ride"

My new copper-colored bicycle
is looking pretty fine under a blues ky
as I pedal along one of the sandy paths
in the Palm Cemetery here in Florida

wheeling past the headstones of the Lyons,
the Campbells, the Dunlaps, and the Davenports,
Arthur and Ethel who outlived him by 11 years
I slow down even more to notice,

but not so much as to fall sideways on the ground.
And here's a guy named Happy Grant
next to his wife Jean in their endless bed.
Annie Sue Simms is right there and sounds

a lot more fun than Theodosia S. Hawley.
And good afternoon, Emily Polasek
and to you too, George and Jane Cooper,
facing each other in profile, two sides of a coin.

I wish I could take you all for a ride
in my wire basket on this glorious April day,
not a thing as simple as your name, Bill Smith,
even trickier than Clarence Augustus Coddington.

Then how about just you, Enid Parker?
Would you like to gather up your voluminous skirts
and ride sidesaddle on the crossbar
and tell me what happened between 1863 and 1931?

I'll even let you ring the silver bell.
But if you're not ready, I can always ask
Mary Brennan to rise form her long sleep
beneath the swaying gray beards of Spanish moss

and ride with me along these halls of the dead 
so I can listen to her strange laughter
as some crows flap in the blue overhead
and the spokes of my wheels catch the dazzling sun.

33  Tell It Slant: a conversation on the language of jesus in his stories and prayers, by Eugene H. Peterson (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2008. 270 pages, plus appendix and index) 

Classic Eugene Peterson, helping us take a new, more lighthearted look at the parables Jesus taught in the New Testament.

34  Little Black Sheep: A Memoirby Ashley Cleveland  (David C. Cook, September 2013. 212 pages) 

A few Sunday evenings ago, our friends Jodi and Bernie came for dinner.  I asked Jodi how she'd spent her weekend.  She told me she got her pre-ordered copy of Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter Ashley Cleveland's memoir and couldn't put it down.  I said "Oh, I'd love to borrow it".  A few days later Jodi texted me, "What's your address?  I'm ordering you your own copy of the book.  Can't wait to talk with you about it!"  The day I picked it up, I read it start to finish in one Saturday morning, texting Jodi intermittently through the entire thing.

So, I've read lots of memoirs.  I've read some that I enjoyed and some that frustrated me.  I'm sure part of the reason I was drawn into Little Black Sheep is that -- essentially -- I was reading the story in community with Jodi.  (also, here sister Laurel plays a special role in Ashley Cleveland's life and I loved hearing that part of the story).  At the same time, this memoir hits some important marks on my list of criteria for a good memoir:  transparent without self-indulgent translucency by the author, a framework that keeps the reader clear about times, dates and places (in this case Ms. Cleveland takes the story back and forth -- like her own life -- from East to West Coast), enough clarity about the realities of both suffering and joy, and special attention to the number of words the reader can absorb about this particular life.  (for example, some life stories absorb beautifully 900 pages, some should probably stick to 150).

I recommend the book heartily, and am so grateful for the redemptive work of Christ.  Thank you, Jodi!

In September I enjoyed browsing through the following books:

Movies & TV 

The only thing better than discovering a film that moves you is to have a friend welcome you to enjoy a film that they love.  The last weekend in September we spent an evening with friends, watching a film they love.  Our hostess explained that the story of six-year-old Hushpuppy fighting to survive not only Hurricane Katrina, but also poverty, neglect, and hunger helped her articulate some of her own painful growing-up experience.  Of course, the aurochs are magical realism, symbolizing any number of predators a child fears.  My favorite moment in the film,  Hushpuppy stares the beast down, looks him in the eye and whispers:  "You're my friend, kind of."  Something about that I know to be true.

Other movies we watched in September:  

The Help

On TV (via or Netflix):

The Newsroom  
The War (started this seven-part series while I was sick in bed for the week.  I'm so glad I watched it.  I'd never really understood World War II chronologically before.  Also, when is someone going to cinematically tell the story of the Japanese Americans we threw into interment camps for years?)


In my ears 

Falling in love with the release of Jason Harrod's newest album Highliner.  Buy your copy of the album here.


Art I'm Loving (Follow me on Pinterest here.)

Published on Sep 12, 2013
New York City Ballet presents NEW BEGINNINGS on September 12, 2013. Filmed at sunrise on the 57th floor of 4WTC in lower Manhattan, this short film captures an extraordinary and moving performance of Christopher Wheeldon's After the Rain. It is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, and a tribute to the future of the city that New York City Ballet calls home. 


In the kitchen

I made this cake for the wedding reception of two lovely people.  And, really, what a great idea, right?  Friends donated their favorite cakes for a buffet of goodness at the reception.  Oh, my, this was yummy....

Random thing making me happy 

Some kind and generous friends gave Brian and me a little getaway to Horseshoe Bay, TX.  I spent one entire afternoon doing this.  Ahhhh.....


On the Blog (Get This Sacramental Life delivered by email.) 


So, what about you? What's in your book pile? 

What art, film, song has captured your imagination? 

What are you pinning or cooking or planning? 

Share in the comments, won't you?

For more “What I’m Into” posts, head over to Leigh’s blog

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