Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A theology of billboards, sharing today at Think Christian

Three years ago my family moved to Austin, Texas. Our very first spring we got a front row seat to the effects of theHighway Beautification Act of 1965, a legacy of former first lady Lady Bird Johnson. In a place known for heat and drought, springtime in Texas kicks off a wildflower parade up and down the state’s medians and roadways. Johnson’s concern about the increasing number of billboards crowding out the natural beauty of her home state energized her to become the first president’s wife to actively campaign for legislative action. 
A recent NPR story described the new battle Texans are fighting against the billboard lobby’s request to heighten signs. It makes sense for political figures to discuss the use of public spaces, but what if it also became a Christian conversation?    

Bonus feature:
one of the billboards we managed to catch on the camera on our trip to Texas, 2011.  

This is somewhere in the middle of Ohio, in case you were wondering.

Monday, September 29, 2014

7 quick takes from this week + other good stuff I found online

So my son Alex sent us an email with the subject "Recognize anyone you know?" and attached a screenshot from the the new movie trailer for Men, Women and Children (Jason Reitman, Ansel Elgort, Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner).

Ummm, yes?!?  That'd be my son.  Although when you watch the actual trailer this scene just flashes by and you probably wouldn't even notice.  Alex and his girlfriend Rebekah both worked as extras on the set.  Alex has some pretty funny stories about shooting the scene that landed in the trailer, but you'll have to ask him if you want to know more.  Also, this isn't Rebekah's first gig.  Remember Parkland?
(fyi:  this movie looks thought-provoking but we really don't know much about it)

--- 2 ---

Keeping a kingdom perspective on home-cooked meals 

I had the privilege of writing again at Think Christian this week.  Somehow I've ended up with the "food beat" over there.  Like I've said before, that might be a bit like Donald Trump getting the knitting beat, but oh well.  It's been a joy and pushing me beyond my preconceptions that food is only about being good at cooking and baking and stuff.  Food speaks to our most common needs and desires, it speaks of haves and have nots, it speaks of creating and cultivating and community.  It's a truly beautiful subject. I wrote this week's article in response to a Slate article on the romanticizing of home-cooked meals.

This girl is doing just fine.  College seems to suit her well -- not that I'm surprised by that at all.  When I told this to a friend she said, "I'm  not surprised, either.  Kendra's an old soul."  Right then I realized that many of the frustrations that go along with being an old soul in highschool turn out to be benefits after high school.  

She's joined Sigma Phi Lambda ("Sisters for the Lord") and making beautiful friends.  We're pretty sure she's studying, too.  We are grateful.

We wondered what it would feel like for Kendra and Natalie to live apart since they really are very close friends.  Turns out they're doing just fine.  Sign of a good friendship.  Natalie got her license a couple weeks back.  She said she's been waiting for this day for 16 1/2 years (she turns 17 in December).  The experience of passing her road test fraught with tension, but she did it!  Turns out to be great fodder for writing for her school paper. 

Last, but certainly not least, Andrew-- this guy's coming soon to a Fun, Fun, Fun Fest stage near you.  (well, at least if you live in Austin)

Not sure the schedule yet, but I'll keep you posted.  I'm personally hoping he gets slated somewhere between Fat White Family and Gorilla Biscuits.  Just because that would be so fun to say.  
Other good links online this week:

Life in the Kolache Belt: Reflections from the Intersection of Food, Faith, Farming, and Fracking at Front Porch Republic:  Just a lovely essay about a place.  I especially appreciate John Murdock's words since now live in the "kolache belt". 

First Listen: Lucinda Williams, 'Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone' at NPR:  I really enjoyed listening!

Eight reasons people don't get involved at The Guardian: "A few years ago, I became very worried about the planet and decided to Do Something. But what? I found some experts, and asked them. One was Dr David Fleming, who had invented a clever mechanism to incentivise individuals – and entire nations – to save energy. What, in his opinion, was the most important thing anybody could do to tackle the twin threats of climate change and resource shortages?
“Join the local choir,” he said."

What a great week in baseball history.  Brian and I renewed our appreciation for the NY Yankees in 1995 when we were too broke for cable or a television, for that matter. I was pregnant with our third baby and we'd spend our summer and fall evenings listening to the games on the radio hearing descriptions of this rookie player Derek Jeter. We've been listening (and now watching ever since). It's been a really fun ride and this guy is a classic.

And I know I was feeling a bit sentimental when I watched this live, but as I've watched the highlights again I can't help thinking about what it will be like when I enter eternity and get to see the "cloud of witnesses cheering us on".  Somehow the line up of great Yankees who'd retired before him, who stood on the sideline watching Jeter's final play, well somehow they reminded me of that moment that will surely come to us someday.  I doubt we'll be in pinstripes, but you never know!

Hoping for a good week for us all, friends.

 (For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!)

Saturday, September 06, 2014

5 favorites: good things in August

5 favorites: good things from August

-- 1 --

Bowling birthday parties

Andrew's lovely girlfriend has a birthday less than a week apart so it only made sense to go bowling to celebrate them both.  Seriously, when's the last time you went bowling?  It's just a fun way to get lost for a while.  Chocolate cake helps, too.

-- 2 --

The Andrew Stories

As part of Drew's gift this year, we invited several friends and family members to send one of their favorite "Andrew stories" as a way to remind him how much he is loved and respected.  We printed each one and Natalie decorated the binder.  It still takes a village....

-- 3 -- 

Kendra (and "Monkieus") go to college

And we learn again how to say good-bye again.  And it's all good.

-- 4 --

God uses this sweet lady to look out for our girl

In August Natalie flew from New York where she'd been working as a camp counsellor back home to Austin.  She's flown by herself before -- but on a direct flight.  This time she had a layover in Detroit and for whatever reason determined by the gods of airline fate her flight out of the tiny Binghamton airport was delayed long enough to whittle away the one hour layover time she had to catch her flight out of Detroit.  We were on our way to a ministry event and trying to juggle getting updates from Natalie and my parents and preparing for the event.  In the car we jumped from the nagging sense we'd messed this up and should never have put our daughter on a non-direct flight into the parent's desperate prayer "HELP, God!  We did what we thought was best and we can't control the outcome.  Please protect Natalie!"  Within a half hour we got a text that a woman flying the very same flights from Binghamton to Austin via Detroit had introduced herself to Natalie because of the Young Life T-shirt Nat was wearing.  The woman and her family live in Austin, have connections with both Young Life and Mission: Possible and Binghamton -- I mean what are the chances?!?  This lovely mama took Natalie under her wing the whole way -- including making sure Nats got off the plane first in Detroit so she could run to get the next plane.  

I was so grateful to meet Ellen in the Austin airport and give her the thank you hug only one mama can give to another.  God -- our ever-watchful Mama -- answered our prayer in the most perfect way and I don't ever want to forget this story.  

-- 5 --

Our third anniversary in Austin

Can you even believe it?  Another August serendipity is that without realizing it we scheduled a family night with all our kids and their significant others on the very same day -- three years later -- that we landed in Austin.  Hasn't our family grown just beautifully?  Thanks be to God.

Here's the year 1 and year 2 highlight posts:


Other good things online this month

1. Breathing the Same Air as Genius at Oxford American:  We almost drove from Texas to Virginia by way of Milledgeville this summer.  After reading Padgett Powell's delightful story I sort of feel like we actually did.
2.  Benjamin Barber - If Mayors Ruled the World [TED TALK] via Englewood Review:   My mom first passed this on to me and then I passed it on to my son -- the political science major who wants to make a difference in this world and feels pretty skeptical about national government.  Benjamin Barber makes an excellent case for politics to go local. 
3. John Perkins: The Sin of Racism Made Ferguson Escalate So Quickly at CT:  It's going to take me a while to process and wonder and pray on the events from this summer.  Open the eyes of my heart, Lord.
more on the subject from what I've read so far...
4. What Will I Do? A Call to Theologians from Brian Bantum via SPU Response:   "There have been so many words and seemingly so little peace for the people of Ferguson. I am going to continue to prayer, to post, to shout out with them. But I am also going to pray with my life in the coming year, learning about the realities of my neighbors and working to help further the mechanisms, policies, and communities that can testify to God’s presence among us. "
5.  Strange Fruit from SALT Project:  "This is the story of an American masterpiece, the song TIME Magazine in 1999 called "the song of the century." But even more, this is a Good Friday story, an Easter Sunday story, a deeply human story of tragedy, defiance, genius, and grace."

Strange Fruit from SALT Project on Vimeo.

A good news-filled weekend for us all, dear ones. 

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