07 July 2017

Life in a Small Town

When I first turned sixteen and obtained a driver’s license, I made a deal with myself that I would still bike and walk places.  I did not want to become someone who couldn’t get around without a car.  Most of the rest of my reasoning as a sixteen year old driver was awful.  But this decision serves me well even twenty-four years later.

Now that I’ve lived in a small town for four years, I can say I’ve walked nearly everywhere, though seven months of the year I’m pretty limited by cold temps.  Even then, when I start to feel like I may go crazy, I do battle with the temperature, bundle up, and stomp around my neighborhood block, just to defy the frigid demon that wants to steal my sanity.

Today, though, I just want to tell you a couple funny small town stories.

Last week, as we perused Downton Dollar Days, where the businesses set out merchandise they want to get rid of, some cute Christmas ornaments caught my eye.  The bookstore owner handed my kids cups of root beer and then eyed me, deciding he was going to make a sale and get rid of twenty of them once and for all.  I asked him how much they were.  With an evil gleam in his eye he asked how many I wanted.  I said three.  He set his jaw and told me I could have three for a dollar each or I could take them all for three dollars.  I told him he was naughty, and then I walked away with way too many cloth animal Christmas ornaments.  Thankfully, I got a really great deal on a kids’ book series I’d been wanting, and he confirmed I had a good eye.  So we’re still friends.

This morning I went through airport security.  The security man who called me through the x-ray scanner has eaten dinner at my home.  His kids hang with mine and I chat with his wife pretty often.  Unfortunately I’d forgotten to take my earbuds out of my back pants pocket and it was a horrifying moment when the machine showed a big red area to pat over my right buttocks.  He’d also had to tell me to take off my lightweight jacket, under which I just had a scanty running shirt on.

Awkward and funny.  Thank goodness for regulations that require a female to come do the patting.

Anyway, small towns are funny that way.  This one is growing on me.

31 January 2017

At Dinner

On a whim, I typed “dinner out with Brian” on our merged calendars one Thursday night.

So we sat across from each other, next to the cozy fireplace in our town’s Famous Barbeque restaurant, I feverishly working to find meals for us that weren’t full of sugar, gluten, or dairy.  And were reasonably priced.  This barbecue restaurant wasn’t cooperating with my economically healthy food desires.

Brian humored me by going along with this food plan, but I was starting to sweat guilt that he wouldn’t get to enjoy his sweet ribs and coleslaw.

After my hundredth fretting question to him, he grabbed my hands and looked me straight in the eyes.  “This isn’t about the food.  It’s about being with you.”

What do you say to that except “oh?" And sigh in relief.

This is what God says to each of us, actually.  To you, specifically.

He’s not looking for anything from you. He truly wants to know you, to be with you.  Rest in that with me, yes?

26 January 2017

Dayna's Books of 2016

Behold, 2017.  That means 2016 left.  But I’m carrying with me some good thoughts from interesting authors, growing and changing me I hope.

I read 24 books this year.  I always go for 40 and always hit low 20’s.  For 2017 you’d think I’d try for 30, but I’ll stick with 40.

Here are the books I’d like to reread if time for it allows:
(Side note: this does not necessarily mean these were my favorite reads, just that they are books I’d like to re-engage at some point because of the depth and beauty I experienced.)

1.Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
A Greek myth retold by the master, it is at once understandable and difficult to fully grasp.  I’ve never looked forward to picking up a fantasy read like this before, and definitely want to revisit this one.  It was a mirror to my soul but I couldn’t quite grasp the image.

2. Watership Down by Richard Adams
Apparently, when Richard Adams tried to get this gem published, those he approached didn’t know who to market it to.  It was too complex for children, and too imaginary for adults.  We listened to this on audiobook as a family.  It is over 16 hours long, so it is ideal a road trip or two or three.

This is a that story deals with a community of rabbits.  That description alone has halted me from reading it, classic though it is.  I’ve never been able to fully enjoy Ralph S. Mouse or even Charlotte’s Web because I struggle entering imaginary worlds where animals and human characters interact on an equal level.  Must be my farm girl background.

Thankfully the rabbits don’t interact with the humans as friends, but are realistically afraid of them.  I’m going to use the word depth again, sorry.  The depth of the community relationships as this band of rabbits struggles to find a place to create a new warren is completely incredible.  Sociologists really should use this as a textbook.

3.  40 Days of Decrease by Alicia Britt Cole
This is a Lenten guide.  I’m thinking about going through it with a group of people again this Lenten season.  Though it is full of more ways to fast or decrease than I was able to fully participate in, it was a wonderful challenge for my days.
Each day is broken up with scripture, deep devotional thoughts, and an explanation on the history of lent.  I wish the history of lent would be put into its own section instead of broken up into pieces, but that’s my only idea for improvement.

4.  Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson
I keep thinking she’s Hannah Hurnard, when actually this author is a modern day woman approximately my age living in the countryside of Virginia as a rural pastor’s wife, writer, mother, and avid gardener.  

She uses all of her experiences; ministry, writing, parenting, and especially gardening to explain the truths of humility.  Her premise starts with Jesus’ promise in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest.”

I know I missed things in this gem, and I love all the agricultural analogies.  I want to return.

5.  The Quotidian Mysteries by Kathleen Norris
Really, Norris is in her own league.  (C.S. Lewis is in his own league too, of course.). As I read this tiny collection of essays on the liturgy of the ordinary, I suddenly saw my own dish doing and laundry folding as beautiful.  I’ll pick it up again when the mundane becomes cumbersome.

Others I loved but probably won’t get to again include:

The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery (well, I’ll probably read this again)
The Kite Rider by Geraldine McCoughrean
Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain
The Penderwick’s by Jeanie Birdsall
Home by Marilynne Robinson
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Anthem by Ayn Rand
The Bird in the Tree by Elizabeth Goudge
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander--I LOVED this on audiobook.  At 2 hours long, it is a quick listen and incredibly told; a completely deserved Newberry award winner.  I’ve listened to it at least three times, and will listen again.

Design Your Day by Claire Diaz-Ortiz
Eat This Book by Eugene Peterson
The Life Giving Home by Sally and Sarah Clarckson
Essentialism by Greg McKeown
Roots and Sky by Christy Purifoy
God With Us, an advent devotional by Greg Pennoyer and other editors
None Like Him by Jen Wilkin (I may reread this as well)
Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner--This one really made me think and wrestle with my beliefs.  It is about a girl who becomes a devout Jew and then transitions into a belief in Jesus as Messiah.  Still, nine months after reading it, I think about her description of Incarnation and what a powerful pull that had on her.  Maybe this should be a re-read.

If you are still reading, I have bonus material:

This was my favorite podcast of 2016.  I listened to it over and over.  During our family’s epic vacation to the Beartooth Mountains, we listened to it two days in a row while heading up the Beartooth Highway for hiking daytrips.  Interestingly, listening to this podcast in that setting was one of the most memorable pieces of our trip.

And this video series by Tim Keesee has been eye opening as well.

I hope this will give you an idea or two for your 2017.  May everything we fix our minds upon be purposeful, helping us to love God and others more.  

Do you have any suggestions for me for 2017?