Monday, July 22, 2013

Because it's time.

I think I say this every year -- and why not?  We are so ready for vacation.  Even in this new way of life which involves us having to drive a gazillion hours and sleep on couches and floors no where near anything resembling a resort, even with that we are ready for vacation.  For years I've known that sometimes we need to pray more fervently for protection over planned times of rest than any other endeavor.  I believe it more firmly now when planned times of rest include 3,400 miles driving cross country (non-stop, thank you very much) and hopes for sweet reunions with family and friends.

This year's reunions include meeting our new niece Ellie for the very first time.  And for saying good-bye to one of my dearest friends for the very last time before her family moves across the world.  

So, we pause in our packing for prayers.  I'm especially for these words of blessing a friend prayed over our family yesterday:

A Blessing on Someone's Journey
from Celtic Daily Prayer

I bless you, Murphys,
in the name of the Holy Three,
the Father, the Son and the Sacred Spirit,
May you drink deeply
from God's cup of joy.
May the night bring you quiet.
And when you come 
to the Father's palace
may His door be open and the welcome warm.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

7 quick takes: a house full of girls, we're going to NY and more!

Last week I mentioned our niece's visit.  It's been a fun week having her around!  God bless her for not minding that we don't have an extra bed and that all six of us would be sharing one bathroom.  She's been a good sport.  Even when it rained almost every day (which we loved, but she, being from New York gets plenty of that weather all the time!)

making the most of the rain

Still, the girls managed to get in plenty of fun...

Austin's non-sunny sunrise from Mt. Bonnell:

to sunset from Congress Avenue bridge (along with 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats):

I'm so glad my daughters have cousin-friends.  Some of my best friends growing up were cousins.  Knowing that you'll always be connected is a beautiful thing.

Also, last week, I told you our backyard neighbors were planning a housewarming party / slam poetry performance.  Y'all, it was A-MAZING.  Seriously. 

So, I'm a complete novice to Slam Poetry.  And, it's entirely possible, I'd only thought of it as a caricature to serious poetry.  Um, not any more.  We spent an hour sitting in our living room after the performance trying to make sense of what we'd just seen and I think one of the best connections my son made was that it was like watching a band perform with voices, gestures and poetry rather than instruments, lyrics and choreography.   Yes.  

Our neighbors and their team are headed off soon to the National Poetry Slam in Boston and we wish them well. 

Here's a video performance of one of the poems we heard from our neighbor and one of his teammates Saturday night:  Broem

Links from my online reading this week:

A Human Scale Future at Front Porch Republic:  "In fact, there is good reason to believe that in the near future we will be compelled to think in terms of scale whether we want to or not."

Authentic Mobility at D. L. Mayfied: Sometimes moving toward need means bringing rice to hungry families and accepting a chilled Coke from them. Sometimes it means going to Disney World and accepting the gift of family.

Change Wisely, Dude by Andrea Palpant Dilley at Faith & Leadership (Duke University): My friend Andrea has some advice for church leaders trying desperately to attract and retain young people: change carefully and wisely. What young people say they want in their 20s is not necessarily what they want 10 years later.

The Zimmerman Verdict and the Resurrection of the Old Jim Crow at Sojourners: I found this article important in helping me understand the "stand your ground" self-defense laws in Florida that helped the jury acquit Zimmerman.  Lord, have mercy.

Our Greatest Collaborative Work at Shannon Newby's site:  This may be the absolute sweetest welcome to a new baby that I've ever seen.  So happy for the Newby family!

Tomorrow we get in the car and drive this:

Packing like fiends today.  Also, making playlists for the 25 hours (driving non-stop, thankyouverymuch).

One of the first orders of business will be a trip to the Big Apple.  Here's a little appetizer for our BFF city (camaraman for this video is the former student of one of my human BFF's)


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

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, July 12, 2013

7 Quick Takes: Kendra in Guatemala, slam poetry in our back yard, Megan's coming and more!

Even though she wasn't able to write a post for us this week, Kendra's sharing some of her photos from the place that has captured her heart:  Guatemala City.

Kendra & Christ Church friends visit treasured families
living in the Guatemala City dump neighborhoods.
Presenting the key to a new cinder-block house to Juana and her family.
 The Christ Church team worked to help make Potter's House
100 cinderblock homes goal a reality.
Kendra gets to visit our dear friend Johstin.
Potter's House Guatemala on Facebook

We're down to about four boxes still to unpack.  We're not ready for a housewarming party or anything, but it's beginning to feel a bit like home around here.  

Our neighbors are ready for a housewarming party, though.  The people who share the garage-turned-house in our back yard moved in around the same time we moved into the front yard.  Our landlady told us all 3 of the back tenants are poets but I didn't have the chance to ask them yet.  Imagine my giddy delight when one of them knocked on our back door a few days ago inviting us to their housewarming party / slam poetry performance in the back yard Saturday night.

Yes, I do believe we've found our home.

A few links from the web this week:

Last week I shared the much-linked Evolution of the Swimsuit.  This week, I give you a counter argument:  Is Itsy-bitsy Wrong: bikinis and modesty

Season 4 Casting:  Dang.  Just when I decided I was done with this show they bring in Paul Giamatti.

Much Ado About Mud, Monsters and MarriageA Survey of 2013’s Memorable Summer Movies by Jeffrey Overstreet 

I try to tell people why I love Uncommon Objects on South Congress.  Now you can see -- a bit -- for yourselves.


Tomorrow our sweet niece arrives from New York to spend the week with us here. I tell you this so that if you hear loud cackling, hilarious giggling, non-stop chattering all the way from here to there you'll know why.  Megan, Kendra and Natalie are in the house.  

Today my niece asked Natalie for our zip code so she could check the weather forecast.  Natalie refused to tell her because she's afraid Megan would decide not to come.  (don't tell her, but today in New York was 77 degrees.  Do you think she'll be as grateful as we are that it was only 100 degrees here today?

Tonight we're introducing our daughters to the genius of Rear Window.  I love Friday  nights.


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

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Talking about panhandlers and sales pitches at catapult* magazine this week

Hello, good friends.

Maybe you'd noticed I'm not writing much here lately?  I tried to sneak in posts from my son and daughter to cover it up.  This week my slated guest kinda ditched me -- she knows who she is -- but no mama guilt getting thrown here.

I did write two pieces for the current issue of catapult* magazine, Raising Money:

The perfect sales pitch:  On the decidedly mixed bag of direct sales

Cardboard sales pitch:  a response to Austin's panhandlers

Check out all the articles while you're there!

Hope you're finding joy and peace in and around you wherever you may be this week.


p.s., Here's a little peek at the much-acclaimed curbside love seat now taking up residence with my great-grandmother's bookcase.  We're starting to feel like we live in this place!

Friday, July 05, 2013

7 quick takes: dumpster diving for furniture, two Jasons, the Fourth of July and more!


Also, our camera is broken... 

Otherwise I'd be showing you some sweet photos of how our new digs are shaping up quite nicely.  I'd definitely include a photo of the two sweet shipping guys who brought my great-grandmother's bookcase all the way from New York to Texas and then carried it gingerly into our front room in 106 degrees of Texas heat.  

I'd show you how the shelves are only partially filled because I so much want to make it look just right.

I'd show you the turquoise pleather love seat I found on the curb a few blocks from our house.  I've learned to double check my dumpster diving ideas by my family so -- God bless them -- my son Alex and his girlfriend Rebekah dropped everything, hopped in her car and met me curbside to inspect the potential furniture acquisition   Not only that BUT after giving a hearty thumbs-up they loaded the couch into the back of my van, unloaded it onto our front yard, cleared boxes out of the way in our front room so it'd have a place to live AND helped Brian detail clean it so we'd feel OK putting someone else's garbage in our living room.  

And, friends, it looks pretty great sitting there next to my great-grandma's glass-cabinet book case and the gorgeous art my New York friends bought us a farewell gift two summers ago.  

Even with all that, the absolute highlight of the whole thing was Rebekah's response to my sheepish comment on the side of the road:  "Thank you for not being too embarrassed to help me pick garbage."  

And do you know what she said?

"No, it's great.  I've done the same thing.  I just picked up a chair and re-finished it a few weeks ago."

That girl's gaining more and more mother-of-the-boyfriend bonus points every day! 

This is what the painting by our friend Andy Palmer looked like in our last house.  

This is what the painting looked like two houses ago.  Next week, hopefully, I'll be able to show you what it looks like in this house.  

It's the gift that keeps on giving.

Some of what I've been reading online {the controversial topic edition, it seems}
  • Exodus in the Wilderness by Stanton L. Jones at Christianity Today: Alan Chambers's impassioned apology reflects many elements of godly repentance, but it also goes awry in three key ways.
  • Sex Without Bodies by Andy Crouch at Christianity Today: The church’s response to the LGBT movement must be that matter matters.
Two exciting and totally non-controversial links. One from a fictional Jason and one from a real-life Jason...

by Paul D. Smith

My friend Paul wrote a book.  It's a good book.  Those of us who got to read the chapters as he wrote them felt really lucky to get the inside scoop on the story of the young Jason who meets a fantastical creature.  Lots of us thought he should publish the book and now we're trying to help him get the money to do that.  Want to join us?

My friend Jason Harrod wrote, recorded, produced and is now marketing his new album, Highliner, via his Kickstarter supporters.  You can pre-order the album now.  

Also, read this great write-up at Paste magazine and song premiere of "Moon Mission" from the album.  Download the song for free when you pre-order the album.

Brian and I were happy to give a tiny bit of support to this project and have the whole album in digital already.  Loving the sounds.  We're can't wait to buy Highliner on vinyl for our new-to-us turntable.

We had a wonderful, restful Fourth of July holiday.  How about you?

The highlights of the day for me:

1. Hanging out at Northwest Park pool where my daughter lifeguards. (She's pretty darn adorable, I must say but you'll have to take my word for it. Because, no camera.)

2. Listening to Alex & Kendra's impromptu and bombastic duet perfomrance of the Star Spangled Banner in our living room.  (Which they later repeated -- even more bombastically -- as we walked through the park after fireworks.  Guess they assumed Austin wanted an encore.)

3. Taking a nap for almost two hours while Brian watched the Yankees.

4.  Fireworks at Auditorium Shores on Lady Bird Lake, serenaded by the Austin Symphony.  Our first Fourth of July in Texas was just about perfect.  (Last year we were in New York and that was pretty good, too.)

Alex and Bekah are pretty proud of their Texas state flag thrift-store finds.  


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

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Diary of a camp counsellor [guest post from Natalie Murphy]

My daughter Natalie spent a week in June working as a camp counsellor for at-risk kids from East Austin.  I asked her if I could share a few excerpts from the journal entries she  sent her prayer and financial supporters after she returned home.

I hope her stories will encourage and turn your face toward hope like they did for me....

Let your light shine before others that they may see the good things you do and praise God!
Matthew 5:16
Day 2: Sunday

In and out of training sessions all day, we played games and decorated cabins and ate meals together. The training that happened this evening was perhaps the most powerful since it focused on our heart places and spaces as we share the Gospel.... Worship on Sunday was one of the most powerful things I've ever experienced. The spirit showed up in BIG ways! He called me away from our chapel and out by the lake, where a small wooden cross stands alone. Right before I reached the cross, my foot hit a root and I tripped, landing painfully on my knees in front of it. My knees hit the ground so hard, they bled. But I could not get up. What I saw was a clear sky, filled with the brightest stars. The only thing that blocked my view was the cross, spreading out in terrible glory right before me. I began to sob, only to be interrupted by gasps as I cowered before the Great King. What a wonderful, frightening, beautifully awful moment that was.

Day 5: Wednesday 

LICE. With around 20 confirmed cases among campers and counselors, the whole camp was buzzing with anxiety.

Though I did not have lice, I was so anxious that one small conversation drove me to a complete meltdown somewhere in the afternoon. It wasn't until that evening that I realized what a gift it really was, and remembered the God that works everything together for the good of those who love him. The nurse's station got transformed into a "beauty shop" where girls with lice got special forms of love and affirmation. I've never seen a camper as happy as the girl who came back to my cabin proclaiming she had "the best day ever!"

Day 7: Friday

It is possible that I have never known anything richer than the gifts given to me on Friday. The highlight was bedtime on the last night, when many of the girls asked to be prayed for. A camper asked me to sit next to her and hold her hand and pray over her. I ditched my normal prayer routine and simply thanked God for specific and unique things about her. After the prayer I whispered "Goodnight, I love you." As I walked away, I got pulled back by her little hand wrapped around my pinky finger. She pulled me back and before I had time to ask her to let me go, she wrapped herself around me, clinging to my arms. "I love you," I told her. "I love you," I said two or three more times. I squeezed my eyes really tight, focusing all of my energy on asking for her to know that she is loved. She didn't say anything, but when I looked into her eyes, I could see that she understood. 

And if all that comes out of this week is that one single look in her eyes, it would be more than worth everything.

Visit Natalie's blog, She Can Laugh at the Days to Come

Learn more about Mission: Possible! Austin online

Camp Nikos on Facebook

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