Sunday, December 24, 2017

Sabbath, Book Stacks, And What Hospitality REALLY Might Be

I had anticipated a fuller, messier day today but am pleasantly surprised to find myself seated here at the kitchen table with nothing particularly pressing for the moment. I admit though, these moments of allowing a posture of chin in still palms, staring at the scratches and crayon marks beneath my elbows, and thinking is the sort of posture that has grown more precious to me these days. I crave them with something deeper than my introverted quirks or that basic (and somewhat annoying) human need for rest. Oddly, though the physical stillness is nice that's the lesser of the appeal to me, it's the stillness of heart I crave.

Dare I say. . . Sabbath of heart?

In these pauses, I'm given time to digest the feast of ideas I try to keep on the table (books, conversation, etc) and retain the nutrition of all that's good and true and beautiful in them. It's here in the stillness that I can wrestle with the consistent chaos around me and see Truth reflected there, taking time to sincerely worship the God of Truth from whom these things come and can lead right back to (though we rarely follow them that far).

Put another way: This stillness is my chance to practice for the real feast, the forever feast.

Maybe this is why I've felt more thoughtful lately, eager for new stacks of literature and person to person relationships - I know that my ignorance only sees a tiny section of the table, but scripture and the rich conversations of community (sometimes also called fellowship, I think) both literary and real, new and ancient offer a much greater perspective. But goodness, even the small quantities I've had the chance to nibble on have been enough to nourish so much already. And unexpected things! We've had a heavy tide of visiting friends and family these last few months, so hospitality has been sort of a way of life lately - one I thought I knew something of but a more practice and this discovery of stillness have taught me that I'm woefully mistaken about.

Hospitality carries a certain weight of responsibility, you know? To feed, make comfortable, and delight whoever I'm entertaining. This isn't bad of course, no matter what way I look at it there's a little of that aesthetic that ought to be there, and it's a joy to plan all that out. But is that all? Am I doomed along with Martha to just aimlessly fill my tea pot while taping Pinterest ideals over something deeper, more important? This is where the stillness thing has stepped in.

I may be wrong, but I think hospitality might be about sharing sabbath of heart.

It's a hard thing to do. Harder, I think, than having a logistical plan. I still struggle with understanding what this looks like and how it might work in real time. But what would change if I, we, viewed hospitality this way? Toward our friends, our family, our children, our husband. . . what if we shared sabbath of heart, however that works, and feasted not just on physical food but on soul food? What if we practiced for the real feast, the forever feast, not just on our own but together?

I wonder if it might look something like it did in those first formative days of the church:

"Day by day, continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart." (Acts 2:46)

Beautiful, right? However this is done, it can't be done without Jesus - I can at least say that with complete assurance. Good golly, what reason is there without Him? But I'm getting long-winded now, so I close this out with a prayer that each of our tables (yes, mine too) might hold a little of this stillness, this sabbath, this celebration as we all delight in Him who is rest and who gathers us together at His table... or rather, someday will.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Book Stacks - Christmas Edition

In solidarity with many of you, my friends, I've spent the better part of this week knee deep in wrapping paper and gifts. As chaotic as it sometimes is, it is a satisfying thing to see all these cheerful bundles lined up and waiting for their moment to offer the love and thoughts poured into them. Regardless of whether they get tossed aside for the next one, at least those more important things are there in the offering, that's enough for me.

Per usual, the greater part of the lineup is book shaped. I can't help myself there, I just can't imagine giving a better gift than a book - it's like a two for one with a story to fuel your delight and ideas to feed your soul. But I digress, I'm mentioning this because I thought it might be fun to share what's there. Or at least, what's there for the girls (no, my dear sisters, you'll not be getting a peek at yours here. Move along.).

For Wrennie bird (1):

Fancy Nancy Fashionista Coloring Book - The nonsense, fun thing
Out and About: A First Book of Poems - We love Shirley Hughes! Her illustrations are so quaint and warm, and the stories true to life (one about a lost stuffie is a particular favorite around here). I put a peek into this particular book below so you can see what I mean.
Heroes For Young Readers: Lottie Moon - Familiarizing the girls with people who have walked the path of faith before us is massively important to me. We've been enjoying the Little Lights series, but I've been looking for some missionary biographies that fall somewhere between those and the Trailblazer series. I have high hopes that these books are just that. I know it's a bit old for Wren, but it is poetry. . .
Eloise Wilkin Stories
Nutshell Library (not pictured) - This is my "taking a chance" set for Wren that I got partially because Celeste recommended them and partially because of their size (we love little books).

As promised, here's a peek into the Shirley Hughes book:

For Selah (3):

Fancy Nancy Drawing and Doodling Book
Fancy Nancy: Tea Parties - As you can see, Fancy Nancy is our Twaddle of choice.
Heroes For Young Readers: Jim Elliot
Tasha Tudor's Doll Christmas - If you don't know of Tasha Tudor, you're missing out on so much goodness. Her illustrations and stories are so gorgeous that I spent years, years, looking for a single book we had once borrowed from the library when I was a tiny thing (Becky's Birthday). We love all her books, but A Is For Annabelle and 1 Is One have been in the rotation often lately.
Mud Pies and Other Recipes - As everyone here is big on the bits-and-bobs type of recipes, I think this little vintage beauty will be a hit. You'll find a peek into this one just below because I'm not sure how to summarize it.

For Lanna (6):

See and Sew: A Sewing Book For Children - Because we're dipping our hands into handicrafts a la Charlotte Mason and starting somewhere that she's interested. I had a hard time finding some solid previews for the content in this one, so I put a couple below. This will be paired with a beginners sewing kit, though I probably would have gone for this or this if I had seen them sooner.
Marguerite Makes a Book - Partially because making little books is a common activity around here and partially because this corresponds to what we'll be studying in history next year. Two for one.
The Chronicles of Narnia Official Coloring Book
Heroes For Young Readers: C.S. Lewis
Alice's Adventures In Wonderland (not pictured) - This was on my to-get list for a long time but not high up there because I had some ideals for the illustrations - a style that brought out the whimsical innocence of Wonderland rather than highlighting its neon weirdness. I think I've finally found this in Helen Oxenbury's illustrations (I hope).

A peek into the sewing book:

And because I'm appreciating this selection so much, here's my holiday reading:

I'll be honest, I mostly bought this book because it has a short by one of my all time favorite authors, Elizabeth Goudge. I figured, anyone who has the good sense to choose a Goudge story can probably be trusted with the rest of the selection. I'm happy to find this true. Now how to summarize the thing . . . holy? I walk away from each reading filled with wonder at a God who laid aside His greatness to wrap Himself in the smallness of us just to make everything right again, to lovingly draw His creation nearer to the reality of what it is meant to be. In these literary shorts is both the reminder that He is still with us (though in more of a whisper) and a longing for that day when He'll come again (with a shout). It is an orthodox based book so it probably wouldn't appeal to everyone, but I love it and recklessly recommend the thing regardless of anyone's theological particulars.

The selection (bookmark is from Carrot Top Shop, by the way):

Posting this with a prayer that in all the Christmas festivities (yes, even the gift getting and giving) that the greatest Gift given and the hope that still comes of it [Him] will shine through it all.

Merry Christmas!