Bet you can’t not move!

I saw this video linked on A Holy Experience at Easter. Try as might to just listen and move on, I had bought the song on iTunes by the end of the day. I couldn’t listen to it without wanting to sing and dance! Music speaks to my soul in ways few other things do. My kids have fallen in love with it too. We get in the car, and they say, “Mom, can you play that song?”

Take a few minutes to watch this JOY. I bet you can’t do it without moving or wanting to sing out loud!

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C.S. Lewis–A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet

I have always been a C.S. Lewis fan. I love his fiction. I love his apologetics. And I am amazed both accounts of genius came from the same mind. So, as a fan, I was really looking forward to reading a biography by such a heavy-weight academic as Alister McGrath.C.S. Lewis--A Life

It did not disappoint.

First, it’s a very academic accounting. It’s exhaustive in detail and explanation. McGrath not only tells you Lewis was born in Ireland, he tells you the implication of being a Protestant in Ireland just before the split of the country. And he explains the implications of being an Irishman not required to fight in the Great War but feeling compelled. This is a biography not only of facts but of academic implications based on extensive research.

There were many aspects of Lewis’ life I had been familiar with before. But I was also introduced to new ideas and conclusions. For instance, for all his great apologetics, it was actually experience that converted Lewis to Christianity. As a young child, he had the sense to recognize the feeling of joy and wonder from where it come. That desire to understand joy ultimately led him through atheism to a belief in biblical Christianity.

As well, it appears his writing of apologetics waned after World War II, in large part to his reasoning being challenged in the setting of an academic social club at Oxford. After that night, it is inferred, he lost his confidence in being an apologetics leader of the era. It was never his goal to write apologetics. He had just kind of gotten sucked into it. So it was also easy for him to leave.

Lewis read veraciously as a child. The affects of which are numerous, but one of which was the creation of Narnia. McGrath goes into great detail regarding Lewis’ relationship with Tolkien and their distancing in later years. One of the most fascinating aspects of the book to me was the comparison and differentiation between the development and writing of The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings.

Know this is an academic book, but if you are a Lewis fan, it is a must-read. McGrath does a really great job. Click on the photo of the book above to be taken to Amazon for your own copy. Buy it. Read it. Share it with someone else.

My Dirty Little Secret

Can I tell you a secret?

At heart, I’m an urbanite.

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I didn’t know this about myself until we moved to Italy. We lived right on the corner of two major streets. I went to sleep every night with the not-so-quiet hum of Italian drivers circling the roundabout in front of our bedroom window. I loved it.

I didn’t realize quite how much I loved it until we moved back to suburbia in Florida. No more walking to get my fruit and veggies. We drive the kids to school now. I can walk around my whole block and not see one person. There is an energy I lived on that is gone now. I’ll be honest, I need it back. I’ll spare you the details, but after doing several personality and strengths-finding type assessments, I’ve learned that I NEED the urban. I was made for it, quite frankly.

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When I first realized this, a whole heck of a lot made sense. I gained energy from those around me, so be surrounded by silence and empty streets sucked energy. But I was also a little bitter. We had just bought a house in the land of suburbia. No plans to change our residence any time soon. . . . so was I destined to have the energy sucked out of me forever?

My sweet husband came up with a practical solution. I need to travel to New York City on a regular basis (at least annually).

This was actually a huge step in moving out of depression. Depression is a sucking of all energy until there is just none left to live productively on. I’ve learned that when a lot is being drained through the sieve of my emotional tank, I have to work hard to make extra big refills. Walking the streets of NYC and coming alive with its energy was a huge refill.

photo (7)I went for the first time last Fall, and stayed at this absolutely delightful brownstone on the West Side, two blocks from Central Park. It is a house specifically for pastors and missionaries traveling through the city. As such, rooms are rock-bottom rates. They aren’t anything fancy, but it’s clean, quiet, comfortable and in a perfect location. Oh, and the perfect price.

I was in the city for two and a half days. I walked and walked and walked. I felt cool air blowing on my cheeks. I sat in Starbucks and watched people. I ate incredible ethnic food. I stopped in countless unique shops and bought nothing. I rode every method of public transportation possible. It was glorious!! I came home full. So very full.

One day, I hope the Lord takes us back to the middle of a city. I’m not even that particular which one. I know it will be a long time until that happens. So I work hard to experience the urban in my surburbia. I shop downtown at a local market where people recognize me. I look people in the eye and wonder about their lives. We made the decision to enroll Hannah in a much more ethnically and social diverse Middle School–not for my benefit but it’s diversity was a definite value in the decision. I am working hard to have my life connect with the lives of as many as possible. And I’m planning my next trip to New York. Hopefully next time Cody will come with me.

There you have it, my dirty little secret. I’m an urbanite living in a suburban world.

Ravioli Salad with Tomatos and Basil

A few of you might have checked out a recipe website I had when we lived in Italy. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, do I have a treat for you! Over the course of time, I hope to post some of my very favorite recipes here at A Crazy Beautiful Life.

Today is the perfect Italian summer salad. As long as you have some good tomatoes, you can not mess this up. Another perk is that it is quick. It is a glorious combination of flavors and textures.

Ravioli Salad with Tomatoes and Basil

1 pound (500g) fresh ravioli (or tortellini)
1 pkg. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 small jar artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1/2 C. of your favorite olive (which you’ll notice I omitted)
3 T. capers, rinsed
1/4 C. olive oil
lots of basil, torn (a couple of handfuls)
red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Put tomatoes and artichokes into a large bowl. Add the basil, olives, capers and oil. Toss well. Cook the pasta according to package directions and drain. Immediately add to the bowl and toss gently with a spatula. Add salt, pepper and vinegar to taste.

Experiencing “Normal”

Anyone know what normal is? To me, it has seemed illusive for years, and yet, so longed for. . .

This weekend, I think Cody and I glimpsed it. We celebrated his birthday, and it felt so normal, I hardly knew what to do with myself.

As I mentioned last week, we are huge fans of the show Duck Dynasty. About a month ago, I heard that the brothers from the show were going to be in Orlando at a charity event held by golfer Bubba Watson (2012 winner of The Masters). And the best part was that the event was going to be held on Cody’s birthday. How could this not be God’s will for our lives?

So, on Friday, we headed down to Downtown Disney and the House of Blues. The House of Blues! How hip does that sound!?!

This was a great event. Bubba Watson loves Jesus, and he wants to use the platform he has for God’s glory. He started the whole night out by praying. Then about eight musical artists performed. A couple were country but the rest were hip-hop and rap. All were Christian artists. This was the point in the evening when we didn’t feel so hip. . . not the music I would listen to at home. 🙂

After three hours of music we didn’t exactly understand, Bubba and three guys from Duck Dynasty came on stage for a Q&A.  It was awesome!

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These guys were exactly like they are on the show. They don’t take themselves very seriously, and they really don’t care if people agree with them. They love Jesus, and they love hunting. That’s really what life boils down to for them. And about five minutes into their time onstage, Jase said, “I never leave home without three things: my wife, my duck calls and the Scripture.” For the next ten minutes, he gave one of the best gospel presentations I’ve ever heard. How refreshing it was to hear a “celebrity” talk about how Jesus is the most important thing in his life and not sound cheesy.

Bubba Watson’s story was great too. He talked about how he loves golf, but he doesn’t let it dictate his life. His faith and his family are his priority. He admitted he knew he would never win another Masters because he doesn’t live his life that seriously. More than anything else, he just wants to honor God. Part of the money this event was raising money for was a children’s hospital in Africa he and his wife had become connected to through a missionary. The rest of the money is going to help foster kids in the Central Florida area. The Watson’s adopted their son a week before he won The Master’s, and they are passionate about supporting the system.

And if that wasn’t enough, Cody’s cousin took us to see Star Trek on Saturday night. I can’t tell you the last time we went to see a movie on a Saturday night, let alone on opening weekend! It all just felt so normal.

But then, what is normal? I can’t imagine doing this weekend again. . . we were exhausted! It was fun for a couple of nights, but we couldn’t keep up with it. My normal is bed by 9:30, family movie night with homemade pizza and the cheesy Christian radio station playing in the car because it’s “safe for the little ears.” In light of the disaster so many are living through in Oklahoma and Texas, I couldn’t be more thankful for my normal. Normal is the day-to-day. My normal is mine. Your normal is yours. Comparison only leads to discontentment.

Comparison only leads to discontentment.

What a lesson to learn. Today I am practicing. I am practicing the contentment of my normal.

Giddy

Remember my debate on milk paint versus chalk paint?

I went with the milk paint, solely based on the fact that it was overall cheaper. I am *giddy* with the results! It is exactly what I wanted, and it was so amazingly easy.

Now, regretfully, I don’t have a good “before” picture. I asked my sweet husband if he would help me take the doors off, and he was so quick to get to it that I couldn’t get a picture taken before he had it done. So you’ll have to imagine the pieces put together in all their countryness.

The doors

The doorless cabinet pre-painting

God bless these bronze hardware, but I couldn’t wait to chuck them!

I watched the tutorial on using milk paint on the Miss Mustard Seed website. I’m so glad I did, as milk paint is so very different than latex. Not only do you mix it from powder, but it’s incredibly thin. It goes on like a stain but works more like paint. Watching the tutorial helped me know what was normal. Milk paint is so forgiving. I did absolutely no prep work, it was a little lumpy when I applied it, and I chipped more paint when I applied the wax. The result? Perfection.

The beautiful, perfect, finished project

Isn’t it beautiful?!?!?! I can’t believe I did this and in under 3 hours total. I can’t wait to do it again!

Yes, this hardware is much, much better.

Freshly painted, looking 50 years old. Love it!

Milk paint is awesome in how it antiques itself. Depending on the gloss of the previous finish, it chips as it dries. My cabinet wasn’t very glossy, so I aided the process just a tiny bit with a putty knife. It looks like it’s been sitting in someone’s barn for 50 years, but the finish is smooth and cured.

I’ll admit, I drug my feet in starting this project because I feared the effort that would go into making it look like I had it pictured in my head. It turned out to be so easy, I am eyeing my next project!

Crazy Funny

A funny thing happened about a month ago.

Cody and I were having a “discussion” (you know how those go. . . ), and I was seeking distraction in cable TV, something I rarely do. I stumbled upon this show I had seen my friends commenting about on Facebook. Duck Dynasty. I paused a minute to see what the fuss was about,  and two hours later, I was still laughing.

This show is crazy funny. Crazy. Funny.

The problem is, every time I try to tell someone about it, I end up sounding like the biggest dork.

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So, I’m going to let the show describe itself.

The show features a Louisiana bayou family living the American dream as they operate a thriving business while staying true to their family values and lifestyle. Since the show’s premiere, the Robertsons have been busy being America’s favorite big, bearded, camo-clad family. Despite their modest lifestyle and homes in the backwoods, this close-knit family has made a fortune on duck calls by turning a backyard business into a multi-million dollar sporting empire. But for Willie Robertson, the company’s CEO, running a family operation is tough when all your employees live one distraction at a time and find any excuse to leave the warehouse. They may be living the rags-to-riches American dream, but they’re just as busy staying true to their rugged outdoorsman lifestyle and southern roots. Of course, in this household, even the most ordinary family affair is met with a special Robertson twist of downhome practicality and witty sense of humor. Day to day life in the bayou may be mundane for some, but for the Robertsons, every day brings a new adventure. (http://www.aetv.com/duck-dynasty/)

I am telling you, I almost passed out from laughing so hard during the episode when Si gets a new hunting dog. I feel like Phil, Miss Kay, Willie and Jace are part of our own family now.

That “discussion” Cody and I were having. . . it all faded into the past when he came downstairs and found he couldn’t pull himself away from the TV either. There is nothing like laughter to heal some surface wounds.

It’s on A&E, and there are marathons every Sunday night. You have to check this show out.

Yours for the love of the Duck Commander. . .