Monthly Archives: July 2011

Pintastic!

Yes, I’m mildly obsessed with Pinterest. But, it’s full of so many pretty things that I can’t bear it! Since I’m off at “Cousin’s Camp” today, I thought you might appreciate some of my favorite finds of the week:

I love these women:

ffffound.com

ffffound.com

adore-vintage.blogspot.com

missmoss.co.za

This is how I want to read with my Mister from now on…

ffffound.com

And this is how I would like to spend my first few weeks in Austin:

norulesnoshame.wordpress.com

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Pray with me?

Friends,

Will you pray with me for Somer and Lance? They are friends of mine from college and Somer is a part of our Mama:Monk community.

Right now, Lance is in ICU and on a respirator, as he has been for almost a week now. What began as (what doctors thought was) pneumonia in both lungs has become an unknown infection. The doctors are working very hard to find what it is, but in the meantime he is in critical condition in a drug-induced coma. Please pray with me that God will give the doctors a clear diagnosis so that they can get Lance the right kind of treatment.

This illness came out of nowhere and the family was away from home on vacation. They have three little ones, including a baby girl the same age as my Brooksie (4 months).

Somer has always been one of the strongest, boldest, bravest women I know. Please pray that she will be held up by the Lord’s hands in all of this. I can’t imagine how she is balancing loving her little ones with the exhaustion and stress of Lance’s illness (especially as they’re far from home).

I’m so thankful for this community and grateful that I can come to you with this. Please ask God to heal Lance, give the doctors an answer, offer peace and courage to Somer, and comfort their sweet kids. I’ll keep you updated…

Love,

Micha

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Just a little practical bookish sort of wish list

I’ve been posting a lot of book lists lately. Maybe it’s because I’ve actually had time while I’m staying with my parents (and before that, my mother-in-law’s) to think about books and consider how I’m going to spend the extra brain time I’ll have when we get settled in Austin and we don’t have commitments yet. (It probably won’t last long, so I’d better take advantage of it.)

Here are the books on my non-literary wish list:

 

Everyday Justice: The Global Impact of Our Daily Choices by Julie Clawson – This has been in the back of my mind for a while and I have general convictions about how my family should care for the earth and for those who are most vulnerable on this earth. But I feel like there are a lot of blurry places in my mind that I need to clear up and know where I stand. What stores should I shop at? How do I know which clothes I buy are made in sweatshops? I really need to invest some time in forming my convictions about these things…

 

Mercy Rising: Simple Ways to Practice Justice and Compassion by Amber Robinson – Samesies

 

To Dance With God: Family Ritual and Community Celebration by Gertrud Mueller Nelson — My friend Nancy from Mom’s Group in SF recommends this in the course she and her husband teach on building a “missional” family.  As my boys get older, I want them to experience the beauty of ritual and ceremony, especially as it’s understood in the Church calendar. I want us to live deliberately and presently in every season of the year.

 

The Spirit of Food: 34 Writers on Feasting and Fasting toward God edited by Leslie Leyland Fields. We love food in the Hohorst house. Chris and I bonded immediately over our passion for eating well. And I fell in love (partly) because that boy knew how to feed me! (All I know about cooking, I learned from him–FYI, my mom tried to teach me growing up but I rejected her attempts…sorry Mom.) I know we would both love this book but I’m imagining the Mister will bask in it. (One of his favorite books of all time is The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection by Robert Farrar Capon.)

 

Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living by Tsh Oxenreider — Growing up my mom described her style of housekeeping as “lived in” and I’m unashamed to say that my home tends to be “lived in” as well. Though, there can be too much “living” and not enough “putting away.” (Why is “putting away” in quotes? Don’t ask me!) I want to be an organized person. I want to be a straightening type. But I have a problem with getting things into their places. Let me blame it on being an ENFP and feeling instead of doing all the time, okay? But in my head I am all about being “intentional” and I am all about decluttering my life and home. So, my plan is to read this book and get a grip…

 

The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley — I would describe myself as “Medium Crunchy” as in: I diaper my babies in biodegradable diapers but feel a little guilty that they’re not cloth. I use paper towels and then console myself with the fact that I can compost them. I’m all for local, fresh and seasonal food but you can still find me buying grapes for my kids out of season. I’m the same way about babies. I “wear” my babies and breastfeed for over a year (which in my hometown makes me freaky and in San Francisco makes me conservative), and I’ve “co-slept” with all my babies. I don’t usually write about parenting issues because I don’t like taking a stand on what I think is the right way to parent. I’m constantly unsure about what I’m doing and I know that anything I feel passionate about today could be up for debate tomorrow. August slept in our bed until he was four months old and then I followed the advice of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child to help him begin sleeping on his own without needing our help. But the “crying it out” prescription has never set well with me, even though the book really helped me understand and put into practice the importance of good sleep for him. Yesterday, I just read a post at Emerging Mummy in which she recommends The No-Cry Sleep Solution. The crunchy in me says: “Can it really be true?!” The practical, sleep is important part of me isn’t convinced good sleep is possible without the stern parent stand. I’ll let you know what I decide after I read it.

 

Now I just have to convince the Hoho Budget that, Yes! Of course we can afford to buy six more books!

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Oh! The Thankfulness!

  • My baby has a personality and its best description is: SWEET. He likes to snuggle. He likes to smile at any and all people in his sight. He likes to grab noses. He likes to chew on his toes. And…he has started giving kisses. Yes, that’s right. He gets this dramatic look in his eyes, squints, and goes for it open mouthed. He kisses my neck, my face, my nose, and if he’s lucky, my lips. And he seems to totally know what he’s doing. I guess he’s been kissed a lot in his life and he thinks this is a proper greeting. Which, thankfully, it is.
  • Chris has been trying to win me over to the beauties of Pinterest for the past two months, but it took my being away from him for a couple of weeks to get me (p)interested. (I have to come to these things on my own.) One day in and I can’t get enough. Have you ever seen a Baguette Car?

From lifelovepaper.typepad.com

Or, a bearded man handmade porcelain necklace?

From Depeapa's shop on etsy.com

Exactly. I’m thankful for so many beautiful things in one place.

  • I’m thankful that on Thursday morning my cute family is leaving for “Cousins Camp,” where my brothers’ families join my parents and the boys and me for a long weekend in the mountains, complete with hiking, fishing and kids crafts. (It’s a homemade camp for cousins!) And it’s heaven for August.
  • I’m thankful for the time I’ve had over the past week to be challenged in the child-rearing department. One of the things I’m learning about is Godly Play, a Montessori-based philosophy of teaching Scripture to children and helping them experience God in an authentic way. Our church in San Francisco is beginning to use it and I’m in love with the idea of it. (Embracing wonder in the narrative of the Bible, opening children up to including themselves in God’s story, helping children develop a sense of worship in their play.) I’m going to learn more and tell you about it. Then I’m going to put it into practice at home with my kids.
  • I’m thankful for Isaiah 55, which is the passage I’m praying for the kids from Radnor High School who are at Young Life camp this week.

Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live.

For those kids I love in Philadelphia who may be hearing for the first time this week that God loves them and for all of us: May we who are thirsty come to the waters. May we be brave enough to believe that there is a life-giving God who offers us everything. And may we be grateful. Happy Thankful Tuesday!

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The Whole Heart

Last week I quoted St. Anthony and lamented that I was not only subpar in his thinking that one should not “easily leave” the place one lives, but his advice that someone who wants to please God must always “have God before your eyes.” As a mom to two little things who demand my time and my actual all-day physical presence, I was feeling like a failure in my attempts at the contemplative life.

Then, this weekend, I was reminded again of the kind of shift I underwent during my time in San Francisco, when God saw fit to remake how I understand his heart and love for me. The reminder came in a blog post (“Practicing Wholeheartedness“) written by Chuck DeGroat, one of the pastors and the Director of the Counseling Center at our church in SF.

In it, he quotes (as I’ve heard him quote before) David Whyte’s assertion that, “the antidote to exhaustion is not rest, but wholeheartedness.” I remember when I first discovered that God actually longed for me to be healthy. Shocker! I spent my college years and young adulthood believing that God loved busyness. I never would have described it in such a way. I would have said that God was most pleased with me when I sacrificed my time. That translated into working hard and sleeping little. I was a pleaser (still am) but lived out my greatest act of please-seeking for God. I just wanted him to like me. So I signed up to lead Bible studies. I took high school girls out for coffee. I scheduled every evening with something “substantial.”

It wasn’t until I was burned out and bitter that I realized that God hadn’t done it to me, I had done it to myself. I was the one who hadn’t believed that God wanted me to be a human who slept at night. He had made me needy for rest. He had made me a person who likes to read and take naps and play. And all of those things are valuable to God, not just my sacrifices in ministry.

Last night on the phone with the hubs (Chris and I have been apart for 2 weeks. 1½ more to go!), I asked what he thinks of “wholeheartedness” as opposed to “rest.” He struggled to know the best explanation for such a concept. What he did know was from something he had learned from a Tim Keller sermon. Chris said: “God did not rest on the seventh day because he was exhausted. He rested to show us that we don’t have to be slaves to our work.”

Chuck says in another post,”what’s wrong with your pastor?” (one of his best, by the way) that his emphasis on wholeheartedness is not to say that rest is not important, but that we need to look beneath the surface of what we think rest is. It’s not a week at the beach. It’s discovering the broken thing inside: our insecurities, our built-up anxieties that rule us and form us into people who can’t stop exhausting ourselves, who can’t say no, who can’t forgive, who can’t stop striving. The opposite of wholeheartedness, Chuck says, is a divided heart. Until we begin to see the ways we are living divided, the ways we harm ourselves in our spirit, the broken places we live out of, we will not find the antidote to exhaustion.

I’m thinking about this because I reread my first post on this blog the other day. I reread it because I’ve been feeling frustrated that I set out to learn how to make the ordinary in my life at home holy. I began this blog in an attempt to discover how to live with a constant tether tugging me back to God in the midst of the rhythm of my life. I wanted to live out a new kind of solitude while still being realistic about the demands of motherhood. And, if I’m honest with myself, I wanted to teach you how to do it too.

But then I found myself writing again (last week) how much I long for real communion with God in my day, how much I desire a genuine life of solitude and reflection. And I know in my heart that it is possible that I can live out the contemplative life while raising boys, breastfeeding, and potty training.

It seems to me that what I’m missing is not the opposite of busyness but the opposite of distraction. What I admire about the monastic life is not the ease of the monks’ ceaseless prayer (the monks I’ve met would probably say ceaseless prayer hardly exists, even for them) but their lives of rhythm and awareness.

It’s not REST that I need. What I need is WHOLEHEARTEDNESS. I want to be aware of God. I want to live into him in the daily. I want to pray from a place that’s whole.

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Do Not Easily Leave: A Small Reflection for a Friday

“Someone asked [St. Anthony]: ‘What must one do in order to please God?’ The old man replied, ‘Pay attention to what I tell you: whoever you may be, always have God before your eyes; whatever you do, do it according to the testimony of the holy Scriptures; in whatever place you live, do not easily leave it. Keep these three precepts and you will be saved.’”

 (From the Sayings of the Desert Fathers, Benedicta Ward)  

 

Some wise sayings are easier than others. Or at least they seem that way. You know I love the ancient faithful, those who followed Christ at great cost: the mystics, the Desert Fathers and Mothers, the monastic heroes, whose lives have taught us how to be people of prayer and humility.

And so, I’m stuck on the saying above, words that have pricked me and that offer no ease to my modern soul. St. Anothony says: You want to follow God? 1) Don’t let God out of your line of vision, 2) always live in light of the scripture, and 3) Stop moving everywhere, Micha! Seriously, pick a place and live there.

I can’t stop coming back to the idea of stability around here. The Benedictines commit to stability for life. And then I sit around reading books about them while moving myself and my family all over the country every two years. Something about my “love” for the ancients doesn’t add up. I’m reading about the Desert Fathers (St. Anthony in particular) in Henri Nouwen’s The Way of the Heart right now.  St. Anthony did leave the place in which he lived. But he left it once and spent the rest of his life in the desert, making a calling out of solitude.

Part of me wants to laugh when I read about solitude or stability or even reflective prayer. How am I supposed to seek solitude when I have a baby my body feeds every three hours, who can’t sleep without my touch? How am I supposed to pray in paragraphs when all the time my 3-year-old allows is one sentence brain spurts?

And how am I supposed to “please God” (according to St. Anthony, of course) when I have left the places I’ve lived over and over and over?

I began this blog because I feared I was losing my spiritual earnestness due to the tangible needs of motherhood. I had some inner nudge that there is a deep answer to motherhood found in monastic life—that underneath the constant emotional and physical demands of raising babies, there is room for the sort of faith of the monks. I have this kernel of belief that if I keep holding my mother-calling up to God my time is going to be redeemed, my depth is going to be expanded, my soul is going to ease out of the scrunched wad it often feels like it’s in.

St. Anthony says: “Don’t easily leave it,” these places we’ve lived. He also says, “always have God before your eyes.” Neither is easy.

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We Need a Horse and how to be weirdly grateful

Yesterday, my dear friend Katie (in San Francisco) sent me a package with two letters, a magazine, and three lovely children’s books (I mean incredibly beautiful, you’ve never seen a book so beautifully made) in the mail.

Her husband works for McSweeney’s, the eccentric, progressive publishing house and magazine publisher. Really, McSweeney’s is a literary movement, but that’s beside the point. The point is that her husband has been working lately on children’s books. They’re named after Katie’s family, the McMullens.

One of the books she sent from the “McSweeney’s McMullens” series is a book called We Need a Horse, by Sheila Heti. (Did I mention it’s beautifully illustrated? Clare Rojas.) In it a horse finds a light that asks him what one question he has. The horse responds, “Why was I made a horse and not some other animal?”

The light answers: “Because we needed another horse.”

After befriending a sheep that isn’t content with his being a sheep (he wishes he were a human who could play tennis), the horse finds an apple tree and the apple he hopes to eat says, “I guess they needed to make this horse, so she could come and eat me.”

Though August was a little confused by the ending (after the ground sings a song to the horse), when the darkness of night invites the horse to “accompany” it so that it’s not so lonely. The horse goes, which I’m pretty sure is his death, “But now the horse understood everything.”

This is not a children’s book for the faint of heart, or for those who don’t like metaphor. And it’s totally weird.

But I secretly loved it. I love the light’s answer to the horse. They needed another one! And the apple’s celebration of the horse: For the apple, the horse exists solely to give the apple’s life purpose.

You know I’m always contemplating these things. What does it mean to be loved by God? Where do we find our purpose? And these answers are striking in their simplicity. God loves us. We were made because our life is meaningful. Our interactions are meaningful. The happy among us are those who are content.

And though I wish the grass would sing to me about how perfect the ground is, it doesn’t usually. Gratefulness is not natural, it’s learned. What I loved about this book is that gratefulness is the heart of its weirdness.

I hope that people will one day say the same thing about me.

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