New Site

I’ve put my author website up.  It will be running some best-of articles that you might not have gotten a chance to check out from both this site and the HIC site.

Please check it out, and share if you feel so inclined.

and hearthroseramblings.wordpress.com

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Light Shines Most Brightly Against the Darkness

My husband is very serious about having a dark sleeping space.   In our bedroom, we have wooden blinds inset in the window and allegedly light-proof curtains over it, which were then lined in blackout curtain material by yours truly.   When you walk into our bedroom after lights out – it’s BLACK.

But yet… after enough time to adjust, you notice the light coming in around the edges of the curtain and over the top.  There’s enough light moving around that you can tell when the security light out front is triggered – and enough light even at midnight to be visible.

First thing in the morning, if the curtain isn’t perfectly aligned, a ray of sunshine will work its way through that blockade and hit the armoire next to my head, and I’ll be able to see the dust motes dancing in the light.

Through blinds, curtains, and curtain-liner – the light finds its way.  And the smallest bit of light stands out against the darkness.

We are living in dark times.   So many of our sibs in the faith seem to think that the thing to do is to fade into the background and not shine.  But that’s the opposite of what we should be doing.   We’re supposed to shine harder because of the darkness.

It’s true.  Not all of us are as shiny as we ought to be – but great news, guys!  We’re not competing against an array of spotlights.    And as we allow ourselves to function as the lights that we are, we’ll grow brighter.

Shine on, folks – your efforts are meaningful, they are needed, and you DO make a difference.

Book Review: Placemaker

I saw that Magistra had been reading this book via Instagram, and as placemaking has a spot near to my heart, I grabbed myself a copy.   I was half-hoping for a book I might share with my mom, something I might re-read and find respite with.

It was a good book.   Purifoy writes in a wandering literary style that I’m familiar with via Robert MacFarlane, intertwining personal history with discussions of place.   Both of them have PhDs in literature – this must be the new way to write.   It was a pleasant book.   It was a book that referenced Purifoy’s faith in God and her belief in hospitality.

But this was not the book I hoped it would be.  Being me, I wanted this to be a book very specifically about how to placemake, what it means to make a place… that was not this book.  I wanted to hear about how God called her to make places, and I wanted essays about the specifics… I wanted to learn how to cultivate comfort, beauty, and peace.  More how, more what, even more why.  More Bible.   More teeth.

This book was about the love of places, and the love of making beautiful stops.  It was autobiographical.   It was a set of vignettes with placemaking as the common thread.   It was, as I said, an entirely pleasant read.

And there’s a good chance I might get a copy for my mom for Mother’s day.  It’s a nice book, for nice ladies who like to make places.  My mom is a wonderful gardener – her back yard is a slice of heaven, and I can’t remember a home we lived in where she didn’t plant a tree (even though all but this last home were rented).   I think she’ll find a kindred soul in Purifoy.

It just wasn’t the book that I wanted…..

 

Are Women Particularly Prone to Being Deceived?

It all started with marketing…  Wait.  No.  That’s not what I meant!  The marketing (in this case) wasn’t the deception, it was me getting some research done.  I’m looking for people to send ARCs of the new book to – aka this is me doing marketing.

Blog after blog.  Writer after writer.  Speaker after speaker… and what do I see?  The SAME concept I use as my raison d’ etre.   “Freeing women from the lies that shackle them”.

My first reaction was to scream, “Ewwwww!” and run for the hills.  I hate being derivative.

My second reaction was to sit back and think, “Alright self – obviously there’s a huge market for this.  Why is that?”  Well, the first answer is that women like to have someone to listen to when we go to the church retreat.    That’s not a bad thing.   Women need women to help them through things that women deal with, and fellowship with Nice Church Ladies is not a bad way to spend a Saturday without the kids.

The second answer came up from my memories of listening to Dr. McGee (Thru the Bible).   I remember him saying that women had a more sensitive “tuner” – which made us more likely to hear things, both good and bad.    Hm…

And the third answer is to consider the nature of woman – we are, properly and in good health, the maintainers of networks of family and acquaintance.   That means that we are constantly taking in messages about what it means to be “good”  – and then we internalize those ideas.  Sometimes they’re garbage ideas though.

Reluctantly, I think the answer is “yes”.  I *do* think women are more prone to believe lies than are men.   And we get stuck in bad places and need to be shaken out.   That’s the Titus 2 ministry in a nutshell.   Older women unsticking younger women and helping them along.

I hate marketing.   I don’t *want* to be “just another” writer or speaker or blogger.  Heck, I barely am – because my blog reader list is super short.    I have no capacity to make a “professional polished persona” that doesn’t talk about all of my life, not just my “brand”.  (I don’t want to be branded, sounds painful).  Gack.

I hate lies.  I don’t want to do “polished and shiny”.   I want to do REAL.  I *really* see women around me who believe that they are magically not ambassadors for Christ ’cause they don’t want to be.   I *really* see women around me who are afraid to be beautiful.   I *really* see women who are confused about the whole thing.  And I *really* see a world that needs more beauty in it.

I want to fix that.

And yeah, I would also like it to pay a few bills.  That’s real, kthx.

But I don’t want to join an industry – I want to break hearts open to the light.

We have a Titus 2 Industry because women don’t have intergenerational relationships, because we humans in 2019 don’t have relationships with humans outside our computers all that much period, because we don’t *know* anyone really.   I mentor, which is awesome – but you know, I have to do it formally, because informally, there’s not a younger woman in my church who would feel comfortable randomly walking up to me and asking me a question.  That sucks.

Instead we eat the lies of the World.   We *want* guidance.  We need it.   We *will* get it somewhere.   We model ourselves after… someone.   Multiple someones.    That’s what women do – we’re malleable.  Good characteristic when you consider our position as someone who comes alongside her husband and makes herself part of his life.  Problematic in other ways.

So yes.  I think we are prone to deception, and it makes me sad.  And it makes me mad, and determined to pick up my sword………

Noise and Silence

We were talking about the value of silence over at El’s before she took her Lenten break from the blogging world, and how our current world is set up to deliver noise constantly.

Some of the noise comes from what we – or our audible neighbors – consider entertainment.   Music, talk, television, movies, youtube – the sound fills whatever might be a silent moment.

Some of the noise comes from the modern world – the sound of cars is constant in my neighborhood.  Trains, sirens, foghorns, the hum of electricity, the rumble of the dryer.

Some of the noise comes from the natural world – the cackling of my neighbor’s chickens, the sound of the wind in the trees, the sound of breakers on the beach, the crashing of thunder.

I am someone who values silence.   I uncoil in the stillness of an empty house, a darkened bedroom, a winter beach.   There are parts of myself that will not come out for the examining when the world is noisy and busy and full.

We sort noises into noises that we need to pay attention to, and noises that we don’t.   I don’t need to pay attention to the sound of the rain.  I might love to, but I don’t need to.   Even though the sound of traffic on I-5 sounds very much like a roaring river, traffic noise is car noise, and car noise I need to pay attention to – well, at least I’ve trained myself to do so when I’m driving, and that extends to the hours when I am not.

Noises that start & stop take more of our attention than noises that are constant.

But yet – I find myself choosing noise more often than silence.   Why?

I find myself erecting walls of noise-of-my-choice to protect my psyche from the assault of noise-not-of-my-choice.   If there must be noise, let me choose my own input.   Let me make for myself a safe place, a barrier.  When I drive and the person next to me has their noise-machine cranked up, my own noise-machine gives me continuity.  I can pretend that though we sit 10 feet away from one another, we are truly in separate countries, totally strangers to one another in our cells of steel and glass.    Noise provides an illusion.

I choose outer noise when my inner self is discombobulated or wound up.    I’m much more likely to turn the radio on on the way home from work than on the way to work!   Somehow listening to external noise-of-choice helps me ignore the internal noise.  Similarly, I’ll change the radio station to change my line of thought if I’m stuck in a mental place that I don’t like.

Why do I keep calling the radio “noise-of-choice” and not music?   Well, because I’m not listening to it as music.   I am neither participating as a singer, nor am I fully savoring it as an appreciator of art.   It is pleasant companionship, not transformative.  I am capable of appreciating good music, but good music makes poor walls.   When I want to appreciate music (or any other kind of art), I want to have had time in silence, time to quiet myself so that I can bring my full attention to what is on offer.   My pleasant companion can come along with me as I navigate busy streets without forcing me to choose where to place my attention – on a note that breaks the heart, or a nearby driver intent on breaking the law.

That’s one of the things that CS Lewis touched on in a few of his books.   Silence, music, and the sounds of nature allow one to relax, expand, to take a breath, to see God’s handiwork and interact with it.    In our modern world, will we or nil we, we are often prevented from that interaction.

I would like to sit and listen to the birds in the tree outside.  I keep sending my attention to their song.   But we are interrupted by the sound of cars passing.  I find this wearying.   It breaks my attention.   It breaks my thoughts.  It’s hard to enter into Deep Work when I’m constantly dragged back to step one.

I could go on – and might.  But not today.  For my thoughts are fractured by the noises.  Since I cannot be at peace, I may well put on my headphones, and choose my own noise for a few minutes before I go to work and have it chosen for me.

It’s not always about you

I need to spend some time contemplating the bits of wisdom that have floated my way of late, really digest them and put them into my life.   But step one is to write them down and muse a bit so I don’t lose them.   Please feel free to chat about this stuff, it helps me think.

It’s not always about you.

Yes, circumstances in your life are very frequently used to discipline you away from entrenched sin or prepare/equip you for greater service.  It is wisdom to examine what’s going on carefully so that you can get adjusted if necessary.  Prompt obedience saves many an extra spanking.

But not EVERYTHING is about *you*.  Of course you can gain wisdom in every circumstance.  Of course you can grow closer to God every moment of your life.   But that isn’t to say that everything you’re going through right now has to do with sin in your life, a duty upon which you’re procrastinating, or a lesson you need to learn to do the next thing.

Sometimes you’re in a situation for someone else.  You’re their lesson, encouragement, burden, example.

I think about the last years of my grandfather’s life in this context.  His mind had long since departed.  He didn’t know who any of us were.  I’m not too sure he knew who he was – he certainly did not know who he was in that present moment.  So why was he still breathing?  (He was a Christian, so he could have been released to go Home).  He was here for other folks.

I think we get to know about this stuff in Heaven.  I hope we do.  God’s tapestry is beautiful.

 

God is in control of everything, including the timing.  You’re not missing out on anything He wants for you if you’re in His will.

I want to push forward.   You can just put a period there and leave it in any blog I ever write, ever.  That’s a character statement, not a comment on life.  Except at the moment, it’s both.

I tend to think of the things in the Next Stage as rewards, and I need to adjust my thinking to consider them Next Duties.   It’s not that these are not wanted changes, but just like the stage of life I am exiting, they are not going to be without work.   I’ve *loved* my years as a housewife and a mom.   I prayed for them, and I consider myself very deeply blessed to have enjoyed them.   A lot of tapestry weaving was involved to give me this opportunity.

But they weren’t always easy or fun or the way I thought they’d be.   Yes, there was definitely apple-pie and apron wearing.  There was also school stress, a full house, and the constant sense that I was doing it wrong somehow.

I didn’t miss out on anything because things didn’t go according to my plans.

Change is coming, but it will get here when it gets here.   When it does, God already has my ducks in a row.  I don’t have to organize them, I don’t have to do work He’s not asking me to do.  I just have to obey, one day at a time.

 

The place I’m in is a place full of opportunities to learn.  I have things to do for me and mine – personal goals to work on.  (I’m so grateful for personal goals, they keep me sane).

But I’m not in control of the Next Thing or the transition.  Doing my stuff faster, pushing harder, isn’t going to get me out of the bits of my life I’m not enjoying any faster.   I’m here for a reason – and that reason isn’t necessarily me.

God’s got this.

 

PS things that I am enjoying lately include changes in perspective on things I thought were written in stone.  That’s fun.  I like it when God changes my viewpoint to align more closely with His plans for me.

The Novel Reader’s Error

You know a few things… you know that the end will be good.

You can see how things are being put in place – just exactly so – so that SOMETHING is going to be reaped.   Stones in the river ahead of you that you’re crossing.   A step, then another… but you can’t see very far.  What lies ahead?  How far is the other side?

The temptation is to see those bits as pieces of a puzzle, and to try to figure out what is missing.  What is to be seen.   To figure out the next thing that will happen, the next step, so as to prepare oneself.

You want.  Oh, you want.  You want the things you tell everyone about, and the things that you don’t.  (The things that you tell, less so).

And you forget.

You’re not just piecing your puzzle.  In fact, you’re not just crossing your river a stone at a time.

You’re in a dance.  A dance with every other person in the universe, and you’re not the star of the show.  Or the not-star, for that matter.

You want to know, so that you can see where to put your foot next – but you’re not competent to have that information.  You would stop before you performed the grande’ jete’ – not thinking yourself able to leap so far.   Only your Creator knows your abilities and your limitations, how the wind of someone else’s passing will lift you higher or when to bow your head so that you will slip out of the way.

It’s not just that faith is a virtue, it’s that you can’t give yourself fully to the dance without it… and don’t you want to dance?