As the long bright days of summer give way to a crisp, refreshing fall, the styles are changing with the leaves around us. Autumn is arguably the finest season of the four in many ways, fashion being just one of them. Take a nod from nature and weave the rich, vibrant colors of the season into your wardrobe. Gather inspiration from the golden tones of harvest, deep shades of ripened fruit, and the vivid foliage carpeting the ground.
In this age of social media, we have the ability to share anything, anywhere and at any time. With just the tap of a few buttons, we can post virtually any minute detail of our lives on Instagram. There are thousands upon thousands of blogs that we can access or even write ourselves where we can, again, share every detail of our lives. Through photos and words your best friend just down the street or the person a thousand miles away can see what you ate for breakfast or the new shoes you just bought displayed against a beautiful mosaic floor. We are so used to the ability to share every detail of our lives. Whether it’s the lovely latte art from our favorite café, or the latest healthy smoothie that we just concocted, we seem to feel this insatiable urge to make sure everyone knows what we’re doing. Why? What is the point? Is it to say, “Hey look at me, I have this super cool life, you should be jealous that you’re not me”? Is it because we genuinely feel that the photo is worth storing away for the rest of the Internet age?
When I was asked to do a guest post on this blog, initially, I wanted to just say no. I don't feel like I'm a natural blogger, or great at putting things into words like many bloggers I know. However, I felt God nudging me and saying, "Maryann, This has nothing to do with your abilities. Don't you have anything to share about what I'VE done for you?" So here's my attempt at putting a small part of that into words.
Can we keep our faith while in college? The mere title of this article is a paradox because the modern university campus is a rather faithless setting. According to Dr. Finny Kuruvilla, who holds doctorates in chemistry and chemical biology from Harvard, in addition to his MD, “99 percent of university professors are non-Christian.” It follows, that if professors are practicing what they teach, they are living out a god-less lifestyle before their students and promoting anti-faith ideas in their classrooms.
I remember when my siblings and I were little and we would race to the measuring wall to see how much we had grown. We were each always so pleased with our new, taller pencil mark. Our pleasure came in realizing how much further we had come since the last time we had backed up to the wall. “Look how much I’ve grown!” But it was when we turned around that we become dissatisfied. “Wow, look how much taller she is!” The new joy was diminished by hoping to be as tall as big sister. I measured the distance between us with little fingers and wondered how long it would take before I reached HER pencil mark. I’d stand against the wall again: “Am I as tall as her yet?”
My cousin Christy and I have been away from our home base of Kansas for most of last year, but we both came back for the summer. We both had busy summers, but we wanted to do something before we both headed to Faith Builders in the fall. On our family trip this summer, we had the most amazing charcuterie boards at Olympia Provisions in Portland, so my sister and I started brainstorming about a gypsy picnic with charcuterie boards as the centerpiece. Unbeknownst to me, Christy was also dreaming up a bohemian picnic and she wondered if I would want to do the food. I was delighted.
I attended a conference one year where a speaker challenged everyone to wake up at 5am every morning. I was like, “HA! Oh sure. Try getting me to do that! Maybe I’ll try to wake up twenty minutes earlier. Not two hours earlier. LOL.”
These days our nation reels from one dark spectrum to another. Social media explodes with dogmatic opinions, frightened questions, and sorrowful attitudes. Social justice warriors raise their banners on multiple fronts, proclaiming their constitutional rights. Where does this leave you and me? Is there a place for Anabaptist ladies in this convoluted landscape?
I buy a 20 ounce bottle of Coke and drink to the last dribble. I open a package of Twinkies and eat both of them. M-m- m-m. I have an individualized bag of chips with my hoagie and eat the whole bag – well, not the bag, but all the chips. And before I go to bed, I have
myself a bowl of ice cream. Several large scoops hit the spot just fine.
I am always looking for new ways to pack lighter and more efficiently.
I shared in a guest post last year on how I started that process by packing in a color palette of only a few colors. Doing this maximizes my options once I arrive at my destination, especially if I have the opportunity to do laundry.
I hosted my first outdoor movie and ice cream party the summer I lived in a tiny city apartment. Since indoor space was limited, I had to get creative with accommodating large parties, and happily put my large backyard to use. Since then, I have moved, but the movie/ice cream party has become an annual tradition, and this summer I hosted my third. Around 35 friends showed up, and we spent the evening sipping iced coffee, licking drippy ice cream cones and playing lawn games. There was also a twilight balloon launch – all the children had filled out cards with a little message and their return address, and attached them to helium balloons which we sent off in one big, colorful bunch. The final event of the evening was a family-friendly movie, enjoyed from lawn chairs and blankets scattered across the lawn.
I have class every day at the University that I attend. Unfortunately, the parking lot my brother and I park at feels like it’s about eight miles away from everything else. I clocked it once and it’s a little over half a mile from the nearest point of interest, and that point is still quite a ways from where my classes are located.
Walking half a mile is easy if you know how to handle boredom, but that was not the problem.
The problem was the 20lb backpack I carried every day.
I have a passion for food. More specifically, I have a passion for food that is prepared and consumed the way our ancestors prepared & consumed it. Don't get me wrong, I love a good all-American meal of burgers & fries, but there's something that gets my blood pumping when I read about and taste food that my ancestors may have prepared and eaten, whether that be sauerkraut, kombucha, cheese, raw milk or butter, carefully prepared (or not!) meats, or soaked grains.
There’s an Irish folk song which portrays marriage as a voyage. The author depicts himself as a sailor and his lady, the first mate. They signed on together – coupling their fate on the ocean of life. Most of us unmarried girls long for that day when everything is settled, when we sign on with a Sailor and do life with him.
But reality has us all still on the water front. As we reach adulthood we are thrown into a somewhat chaotic scene of young sailors choosing first mates.
Gretta Coates spent five months in the Moria Refugee Camp in Lesvos, Greece, serving refugees through i58, a ministry bringing relief to thousands of displaced people there. These stories from Gretta's time in Greece are eye-opening and moving; a personal glimpse into the tragedy, laced with hope, that she encountered there.
There is very little that is glamorous about any type of home renovation that you are living in the middle of. Except for the picture, the vision that you have in your head of the end result. But the process of getting there is pretty messy and very unsophisticated. Re-doing a kitchen involves things like washing your dishes in a cruddy utility sink in your equally cruddy basement and thawing chicken for the next day in your bathroom sink. (Don't worry, the chicken was contained in a freezer bag and it seemed like a better alternative to thawing the chicken outside overnight and risking some wild animal carting off our supper.)
We’ve all been there. You know what I’m talking about. You’re standing with a group of friends talking about life and one friend shares a cross that she is currently bearing. You nod sympathetically and murmur, “You have so much strength. I don’t know how you do it. I could never handle something like that.”
It seems as though machines and marriages have some things in common. They both take some maintenance to keep them running smoothly. There’s the oil – your engine will lock up in a hurry if you neglect this important detail. Relationships can get rather tight if you forget the oil of courtesy- please and thank you and little smiles are good lubricants. They do much to help overcome friction as the gears of daily home life go round and round.
In today’s culture, women are lifted up as a group of people to be honored and respected. And well we should be. But not for the reasons the world offers. The world seeks to validate women by making us the victims. It is a self-seeking validation. One that says, “I have risen above. I have fought my battles. I deserve my rights, my success. I have done this for myself and it is myself that I will glorify.”
Probably one of the biggest problems we face as Christians today has to do with the debatable word, “offense.” What makes this issue so tricky is that it has two opposite components. On one side, we hear terms like “Be yourself,” “Ignore the haters,” and “Do what it takes to reach the top.” Over the past forty to sixty years, our culture has become more and more self-focused and independent of each other and stopped singing together as a choir in pursuit of grabbing the best solos. We have now reached the point where we are only accountable to ourselves, and if someone has problems with us, it's their own fault. In other words, we do not care whom we may offend in the process of reaching for the stars.