Hey April, let’s have a quick chat. We’re not gonna talk about how long it’s been since I’ve linked up, but you gave me reason again. You were awesome and I appreciate you showing up when you did. I needed you. Like, seriously *needed* you. This winter was long and cold, and I needed your sunshine, and your warmer temperatures, and your road trip, and your Holy Week, and all of it. I needed all of you. So, thanks. Thanks for showing up and thanks for being awesome.
The highlight for me in April was, of course, my trip to Michigan. I love Michigan in a way that doesn’t make sense because it’s cold, and it snows October to April, and in twelve years this East Coast girl hasn’t found a decent seafood place. But, the people. Oh, my people! These are folks I’ve known for more than a decade now; we were teenagers when we met, and now we do adult life together as much as Facebook and emails and texts and phone calls will allow. And that is why these visits are so treasured – because the time face-to-face is so rare, and because face-to-face fosters the relationships in a way that Faceboook and emails and texts and phone calls can’t. We live into these moments together, and I’m always impressed by how good the time is when we’re bent on simply enjoying each other. Good like being close to God’s heart is good.
Of course, my time was punctuated differently this time because of the Festival of Faith and Writing. I’m not sure how to sum up FFW, because I took a legal pad’s worth of notes over the three-days, so here’s some of the things that people much smarter than me said, straight from my legal pad:
- “Art gives us a map, so we can figure out who we are in the world. And we make art because the next generation needs the maps.” – Gene Luen Yang
- “Our story is not complete until it has been heard by people.” – Uwem Akpan
- “We use humor to survive, so the Devil doesn’t do too much damage.” – Uwem Akpan
- “Good story can be tragic.” – Shannon Huffman Polson
- “All good writing is pressing on a bruise.” – Shannon Huffman Polson, quoting Pam Houston
- “The word ‘Christian’ was never meant to be a modifier. When it’s used that way, it becomes a lesser being. If we are to be Christian writers, we need to be writers who are Christian.” – Bret Lott
- “Writing with precision is important because we were made in the image of God, not blurrily, not kind of, but precisely made in the image of God.” – Bret Lott
- “Human words matter because written words are the best communicator of ideas, and ideas rule the world.” – Richard Foster
- “Silence allows us to cultivate the soil of our hearts, so the words that grow forth are crisp and clear and true.” – Richard Foster
- “One of the greatest traps for us as Christians is clichés. It takes courage and care to use words in a holy way.” – Carolyn Weber
- “I think sometimes we think grace will get out of hand. But, grace got out of hand the moment that the God of the universe hung on the cross and said, ‘Father, forgive them for the know not what they do.’” – Rachel Held Evans
- “It so does not work for me that when you sit down to write all your psychiatric issues show up, and they sit at your desk, and they have some feelings, and they’re worried.” – Anne Lamott
- “There are two versions of you – who you think you are and who your best friend thinks you are. Have the courage to believe her version.” – Anne Lamott
- “It is the particular call of writers to behold, to invite others to see God.” – Sharon Garlough Brown
- “When something bad happens, we ask ‘Where is God?’ He was there. What good was his presence? There’s no good answer. Chaplains don’t have a good answer. Frederick Buechner didn’t have a good answer. Mother Mary and Mary Magdalene didn’t have a good answer at the foot of the cross. But, they stayed.” – Anne Lamott
- “People want to say that you can’t have faith and fear at the same time, and I don’t want to sit with those people at lunch. I have a lot of faith. But, I’m fearful. I came this way.” – Anne Lamott
- “Grant me the courage to accept the things I cannot change…which is everybody else.” – Anne Lamott
- “In my mind, ‘find your voice’ doesn’t make sense. I say find your obsession. What takes hold of you and won’t let go? If you want to write about people, maybe that’s not a good reason to write. But, if you’re obsessed with knowing more, go with that.” – Sean Hill
- “We serve at the hands of a generous Master.” – Rachel Held Evans
In my non-writing life, I babysat a bunch this month. I have some thoughts about this – about what a strange turn of events this is, because for so long I identified myself as not-kid person and now I am babysitting all the time, and I’m trusted with people’s kids, and what is wrong with you people? Because this is all a little weird. But…weird as it is, it’s also so good. Like being close to God’s heart is good.
Per recommendations of a couple of friends whose reading suggestions I always take, in the last week of the month I read Glennon Doyle Melton’s Carry On, Warrior. I was on board with her after the dedication to her mother, but she had me after she said, “[God-sized holes] are good for making friends, and friends are the best fillers I’ve found yet. Maybe because other people are the closest we get to God on this side. So when we use them to find God in each other, we become holy.” That’ll preach.
My Bible study also finished Ann Voskamp’s 1,000 Gifts, which I recommend reading with a group of people with whom you can say out loud the things you’re grateful for. It’s good. Like being close to God’s heart is good.
Also, I’ve started blog-reading again, but with much less gusto than before. I don’t have any recommendations because I know most of you who read my blog are already reading the blogs I read. So, just keep reading, you smart people, you.
The trip to Michigan takes me across four states in 11 hours, so I don’t make that trip anymore without good books-on-CD and good tunes. On the drive out, I listened to Ally Vesterfelt’s Packing Light, which is about a road trip she takes around all 50 states with a friend. It’s about letting go of “stuff,” but I think it’s more about finding yourself. I immediately gave my copy to Joy and she’s also recently listened to it. For the past couple of weeks, we’ve either been texting about the rules we need if we ever decide to do the Amazing Race together or the practicality of making a fifty state road trip together. In both circumstances, Joy tells me I need to stop driving like I’m from the East Coast before she’ll get in a car with me for that long. I’m not sure what she means, except I think she’ll probably be glad that I’m a frequent-lane-changer when we’re in, like, India or something.
On the way home, I listened to a lot of the Coffee House satellite radio station. (I always listen to a lot of the Coffee House satellite radio station.) And so now I’m obsessed with Alternate Routes “Nothing More” and Passenger’s “Scare Away the Dark.”
Grey’s Anatomy – because Cristina is about to leave, and because Joy and I need to talk about something other than travelling all the time.
Castle – because they’re about to get married, and because I have more than a little crush on Nathan Fillion. And because, let’s be honest, I kind of wish I were Kate Beckett.
The Mindy Project – because Mindy Kaling is me…or so a Buzzfeed quiz told me.
And also, you should see Captain America: The Winter Soldier if you’re at all into the superhero movies that Hollywood has been churning out lately.
Oh, and I need someone to go see Brick Mansions with me – because Paul Walker! And because Beth adamantly refuses. She doesn’t really love me, I guess. Whatever.
So, hey May – what’ve you got for me?