May Day Thoughts

The wound is the place where the Light enters you

- Rumi

 

Occasionally I pop in here to write a post around someone's birthday because, you know, I feel all reflect-y and introspective. Simultaneously I just want to curl up in a blanket and watch poorly written television shows while eating kettle chips and drink a VERY cold La Croix, poured over ice in a very specific mason jar. Just living my best life.

Someone recently asked me how I felt about my "old life." I knew exactly what they meant. They meant my life before moving away from California. At first I said, "I don't know." But that was a big fat lie so my eyes filled with big, hot tears. Sometimes I'm angry as hell. I promise I don't hate church but I can't not talk about church because what you do (or do not) believe about God, WILL inform every facet of your life. That's just how it works.

 What I was taught about God, informed every decision I made (or didn't make). More recently however, over the course of a couple of months, the equation was not adding up anymore. The formula stopped working (it wasn't ever working, by the way but we often cover that mess up with just DOING MORE THINGS to ignore our feelings). And sometimes I'm really angry about it. If you have spoken with me, that anger has probably leaked out in one way or another. A smart ass comment here. A knock against pastoral ministry there. Because I know what kind of influence church can have over people's everyday lives and I know that broken theology can be truly detrimental. Fear and shame are INCREDIBLY effective tools. They get the job done. And because fear and shame were used to manipulate "Scripture,"  I never thought I could be a journalist or a scientist or a baker or an artist or a doctor because . . . BAD THEOLOGY. A theology that has nothing to do with being HUMAN and everything to do with being a Christian. So. I made Christian decisions. Not human ones. And after being married at a young age and having kids at a young age, I looked up and thought, wait. I could have done what?! I could have given up church camp for science camp? I could have gone to Europe instead of be a jr high ministry leader? I could have gone to a secular college with quality academics instead of some Christian liberal arts school that eliminated the psychology department?!

Maybe you're like . . . duh, Jess. What is wrong with you? Did you grow up in an underground bunker? Well, in a spiritual sense, YES. Yes I did. And it's really hard not to be angry. It feels like I lost a good chunk of my youth. I know some women truly mourn the loss of their identity before becoming a mother. That is real. But I'm over here like . . . I didn't even have an identity. I just was. I was youth group girl. I was college ministry girl. I was Africa missions girl. I never took a beat to figure myself out. Instead I walked straight into a covenant and then bore HUMAN BEINGS. We just made more bodies with souls, without every figuring our own souls out. 

This is incredibly real.  Fear and shame drive people towards decisions that look healthy from within the circle. From within the tribe. But no one considers stepping out for a moment to check the view. 

But there is redemption. I look at my girls and feel immense gratitude. Birth broke me open. It woke me up. Having babies made me realize that there are ACTUALLY "the least of these" around me. Because pregnancy and motherhood were/are so fucking hard and I thought... wait. If motherhood is hard for me, and I belong to a loving family and community... how much harder is this for the person who has nothing? No support. No choices. No love. No voice!!

And then I realized that didn't apply to just motherhood but ALL MY NEIGHBORS. To ALL the people around me who are without love, support, community. Growing flesh and bones inside my body and bringing my babies earthside made me realize that WE ALL BELONG TO ONE ANOTHER. And damn't, there is NO such thing as other people's children.

Again, maybe you're thinking . . . Jess! Didn't you watch the news?! Didn't you know there were people in the world outside of your cute bubble? No. I didn't. Actually, that's not true. I did. But remember, the theology I had been given focused on Christian stuff. Not human stuff. So helping humans wasn't really a focus. I believe some have coined these sorts of things as "non-Gospel issues." So I stuck to "Gospel issues." Like monitoring people's church attendance, raising money for summer camp and distracting myself with large commentaries. At one point in my life, I would come home from work and attempted to write a Bible study. Like an actual Bible study. Not for myself. For others. Did this bring me joy? Hell no. And at one point I thought Jesus didn't really care about stuff like racism because He didn't care about "life being fair." You want to talk total depravity?! Look no further folks, than a privileged white girl dismissing racism. 

But back to the point. Babies. Birth. Motherhood. It broke me open. In fact, it wrecked me (and still wrecks me! I'm sure it's an ongoing affair). And I had to choose; I could be angry. I could sit it in my anger, let it stew and continue to mock and troll people on Twitter (#guilty) OR I could take ownership. I could acknowledge that I am not responsible for my wounds but I AM responsible for my healing. I could do something with the gift I have been given in my beautiful, young, tiny family. I could take all the health issues I've encountered and body stuff I have learned and do something outside myself. 

Because if I cling to any sort of theology these days, it's this, "Jesus didn't come to make us Christians. He came to make us fully human." - Hans Rookmaker

So I took all that I knew about the body and birth (not much) and following after it. Rick has done nothing but help me and encourage me. Because we are trying. I'm trying. Because we want to see people flourish. We want to give all the goodness we have been given and literally spread it like confetti. But that happens one day at a time. One unsexy, mundane choice at a time. Or at least that's what I keep hearing from my mentors and heroes. We push forward. We move "further up and further in." Because like Glennon has taught us, "first the pain, then the rising."

 

 

 

Ep017 // A Look at the Physical Affects of Shame with Dr. Angela Smith

 

 "Dieting is the way that women convey their understanding of their role in society and their willingness to accept that role."  - Stanner Gillman

DocAngela.jpg

Thank you for joining us for episode 17, we hope you enjoy!

You can find Dr. Angela Smith on the web HERE  and HERE or you can email her directly at, ang@DrAngelaSmith.com // You can also contact her via phone #  858.717.4644

Other Links . . . 

Brene Brown's mentioned TED Talk: Listening to Shame

Books . . . 

The Body Keeps the Score

Mothers, Daughters and Body Image: Learning to Love Ourselves as We Are

 

Ep014 // Best of 2017

Books

What is The Bible

Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God

The Sacred Enneagram

The Naked Now

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

Falling Upward

Pushed

Bonus ***

My Life in France

Liturgy of the Ordinary

At Home in the World

LIBARY APPS (great for free audio books)

Hoopla

Overdrive

PODCASTS

The Daily

The Liturgists

  • Fake News and Media Literacy
  • Shame - Live from Seattle 
  • Pale Blue Dot
  • Christian Violence

The Robcast

  • The Mythic Power of Christmas (EVERYONE, LISTEN TO THIS)
  • The Thing in the Air Series
  • Alternative Wisdom
  • Intro to Love
  • Everyone is your Teacher
  • We are the Comittee
  • Malones Cajones
  • I was Told to Come Alone 

Impolite Company

Balanced Bites

The Healthy Moms Podcast

Ep 97 Guest Aviva Romm

The Simple Show

  • A year off the internet
  • Ep 95, Extracurriculars
  • Ep 88, No and Yes
  • Ep 85, A Fabric Designer

The Lazy Genius

  • The LG Gets Dressed (#19)
  • The LG Makes Tomato Sauce (#20)
  • The LG Does Laundry (#21)
  • The LG Budgets (#37)
  • The LG and Self Care (#43)
  • The LG Makes a Smoothie (#31)
  • The LG Organizes a Home (#34)
  • The LG Bakes Cookies (#25) 
  • The LG Navigates Family Tension (#40)

The Sorta Awesome Show

For the Love! With Jen Hatmaker 

BONUS ****

Smartest Person in the Room (Esp the body/soul series)

 

Ep010 // On Beauty with Matthew Lee Anderson

In episode ten we had the honor of interviewing Matthew Lee Anderson. We pick his brain and chat about the importance of beauty and our relation to beauty as humans. We hope you enjoy the conversation as much as we did! 

As a reminder, head on over to our Patreon page if you'd like to partner with us in creating more episodes for The Weird Amphibians. Even a $1 donation will help us to produce this podcast with more professionalism and quicker turn-around times.

https://www.patreon.com/theweirdamphibians

We hope you enjoy! 

Ep009 // Reimagining Pro-Life

ARTICLES

I'm Pro-Life, and Pro-Refugee // The New York Times

The link below may seem a bit out of place. Like most of history, dates and facts can be interpreted in a myriad of ways. In order to understand the role of Planned Parenthood, we believe it is important to understand historical figures like Margaret Sanger. We believe that "poverty breeds violence, and violence breeds poverty." This is incredibly important in understanding her personal story, as well as seeking to understand the role children and women had (or did not have) in society. These sorts of ideas have current consequences. 

Margaret Sanger and the International Birth Control Movement

Again, the article below may seem out of place and not in-line with the Umble's stance on abortion. Yet we believe it sheds light into the lives and (incredibly difficult) circumstances of others, that we may never encounter ourselves. 

My Second-Trimester Abortion // Rewire

Being pro-life, means supporting policy that supports the ability for a family to thrive. That's Shalom. Below are two graphics that demonstrate the stark contrast between American and non-American culture in how they support a thriving family culture. 

In this episode, Jess brought up being given a free breast pump under Obama Care. Here is a look into something known as, "The Milk Gap." 

The Breast Milk Gap - The New York Times

Silly String

Two years ago, at 7:35 AM, I birthed another human. She was just shy of 9 pounds and was SO easy to birth (ha).  She had her little arm wrapped around her head so that I had to push out not only her noggin but her noggin + a sharp, pointy elbow and a tight, little meatball of a fist. Insert: expletives.

As soon as I saw her face I thought: “She’s the cutest little bulldog. So angry looking. So red.” I quickly looked at her feet because I wanted to make sure of one thing: SHE HAD RICK’S TOES AND THAT’S ALL I CARED ABOUT. I was kind of hoping she had his dreamy blue-green-grey eyes but that’s not who she is. She’s not a dreamy kid. She’s a brown-eyed bulldog. And she got Rick’s toes. I was in love.

Not much time has gone by / all the time in eternity has gone by. She’s only two years old / how is she already two years old?!  

Well, Ruby, I have some thoughts. And sure, some of them are specific to being a mom or a parent but I think most of them apply to being a person in general. These have been rolling around inside my head for quite some time as I try and navigate this whole, “parenting thing” and it kinda came out like silly string . . .

We live in a Brave New World. It’s that incredibly complex spider web that is woven between cultural-upheaval, relinquished tradition and technological advancement. There are so many damn choices. So many options. We can freeze our eggs. We can freeze our sperm. We can breastfeed. We can bottle feed. We can formula feed. We can wear our babies. We can push our babies in strollers. And if you’re looking for a stroller . . . there are approximately 98717401643 different kinds to choose from, ranging anywhere from $200 - $1,000. Good luck!

Whether you’re a parent or not, you could work from home. You could work for yourself. You could start an Etsy shop. You could finish school. You can live abroad. You can pick up and move to another city and start ENTIRELY over because unlike other countries with ancient roots, WE can create an identity that is entirely separate from our family’s name and place of origin. My family hasn’t lived in the same remote Spanish villa for the past 500 years. I doubt your own family has.

I know mothers who work outside of the home. Mothers who work from their homes. Mothers who work part-time from home and part-time out of the home. I know mothers who use daycares and mothers who have babysitters, nannies and family members who help with their kids.

There’s public school, charter school, part-time charter school, homeschool, and even a few unschoolers. There’s Pre-K, T-K (at least in California), half-day Kindergarten and full-day Kindergarten. There’s Target, Walmart, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Natural Grocers, Fry’s, Albertsons, Safeway, CVS and Walmart . . . all within 15 miles of our home. There’s Amazon Prime, Amazon Now (and don’t forget, the weird Amazon button) Thrive Market, Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and Nature Box, just to name a few.

If you thought you were going to be able to read this without any mention of social media. . . I’m sorry, you’re at the wrong place.

There’s fit-mom Instagram

There’s fashion-mom Instagram

There’s real-food-mom Instagram

There’s toddler-baby-fashion-mom Instagram

There’s yoga-mom Instagram

There’s Catholic-mom Instagram

There’s Calvinist-mom Instagram

There’s homeschool-mom Instagram

There’s No-I’m-Totally-Real-and-Don’t-Always-Wear-Makeup-Mom Instagram

Never before could you be living your NORMAL, EVERYDAY LIFE and make an income from using a particular pack ‘n play or nail polish or yoga pant. If you have 15K followers on Instagram, the average sponsored, single post goes for 1K dollars. That’s crazy-pants.

Hear me out: I love Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. I love that I can have toilet paper and diapers delivered to my home with a click of a button. I sometimes like Instagram. I have discovered SO many good books, essays and products that have truly served my life. But that’s the tricky part . . . how much of ALL OF THIS is actually serving us?

John Paul II reflected on the question of media technology and answered with this, “Does this progress, which has man for its author and promoter, make human life on earth ‘more human’?” (Redemptor Hominis).

In other words, media and technology and “progress” should be viewed through the lens of: Does this make us more or less human? Because Jesus isn’t in the business of making us more spiritual. He’s actually in the business of making us more human.

But all of these options and choices . . . sometimes I wonder . . . are they making us more or less human?

But wait, here’s the OTHER SIDE. The side I’ve never visited and am just dipping my toes into. Not everyone has these options and choices. We have brothers and sisters both around the world and in our own cities, who are stuck. There’s no way to go. There’s no way to move. Because it’s systemic. It’s so deeply rooted within our culture, within our foundation. They don’t GET the option to choose NOT to go to college and travel or work at Jamba Juice. The decision has been made for them. No, they can’t “Prime” Seventh Generation dish soap to their home. No, they’ve never been inside of a Buy Buy Baby and seen the hundreds of different types of pacifiers. PACIFIERS. They aren’t trying out the Whole 30 or “counting macros” because they are just hoping they get to eat that particular day.

Their humanity isn’t slowly slipping away because of modernity. Their humanity has been stripped from them through the "progress" of modernity.

Evelyn Waugh is an author from the early 20th century. He wrote a novel titled, A Handful of Dust in which the barbaric, murderous, archaic realities of the uncivilized, un-colonized African jungle is merely a mirror for the barbaric, murderous, archaic realities of the oh-so civilized, oh-so colonized realities of modern Britain.

A system built on class, greed, rouge cheeks, wigs, and the dehumanization of people in exchange for “advancement” isn’t that different than war-paint, tribal dance, and cannibalism . . . is it? In other words, our progressive civilizations aren’t that different from the depths of the wild jungle. Both are ruled by animalistic lust and basic survival instinct.

Just because we have advanced, doesn’t mean we have moved towards good. We think of good as progress. We have morality tied up with the concept of movement. If we advance, we are doing better.

And yet we have entire people groups we have left behind. It’s not that we forgot them, it’s that WE DON’T WANT THEM. We keep them confined. That way, we control them. This is true for the unborn and the born. The young and the old.

They have had their humanity stripped from them, with brutality and force. They never had a chance or a choice. And some of us are allowing our own humanity to be taken away, not by force but by stealth. Through numbing.

And so here we are. The privileged and the young. With the opportunity to make a difference. To use our voice for those who have none. To give our resources to those who have none. And as a young mom, I’m telling myself: DON’T GIVE UP. Don’t get sucked in. Don’t let your humanity fizzle away through numbing distraction, endless choices and the IMPOSSIBLE standards. And you don't WANT to. Don't let them tell you any different. You can’t look cute, eat clean, make a double income, keep up on laundry and take good care of your people ALL IN ONE DAY (well, maybe you can. But I guarantee you will exchange your humanity for "progress" in the process). But you know what you CAN do? You can choose love. You can choose love! And THIS will make us not less human, but more human. We can choose love. We CAN choose to be human. We CAN choose Goodness, Truth, and Beauty. Gosh it’s painful. Isn’t it? To be human? To let Aslan peel off those yucky dragon scales with his razor sharp lion claws? But if we don’t let Him peel the yucky stuff off, we’ll never be human again. And neither will our neighbor. I don't know of anything that looks less like progress and more like death, than LOVE. 

BONUS LESSON I’VE LEARNED THESE PAST TWO YEARS:

If you want to make friends/feel good about yourself: post pictures of yourself, your kids, Bible verses about why you’re a horrible sinner who doesn’t deserve grace (BUT LOOK HOW CUTE I LOOK I AM IN THIS PICTURE!)

If you want to lose friends/reconsider your entire life/receive harsh feedback calling you REBELLIOUS (Oh no!! NOT REBELLIOUS!!!) : post pictures of your current reads, your thoughts on politics, and some words on LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is Nothing New

A few nights ago I lay with our little one, scratching her back while she strove to keep her eyes open. Sleep eventually won over. It was a long, sticky, hot, sweaty day filled with tears and tantrums (myself included) and we both were tired. While I lay down near her, she lifted her head to lovingly pat my tummy and give me a kiss on the lips. I didn't tear up. 

Okay I did. How could I not? She nuzzled up next to me and proceeded to drift off to sleep, while I lay there, looking at her and then looking at my body. I'm not going to say anything new. In fact, I HOPE I don't say anything new. I HOPE you already know these things or are at least thinking about these things, regardless of whether or not you are male or female. 

My daughter is 18 months old. In 18 months, my hips haven't moved back to their pre-baby size and neither has my rib cage (yes, your rib cage expands too. Crazy, right?). They may move back. They may never move back. But oh my . . . the pressure. The pressure to change your body BACK. To move time BACK. 

When bringing a human being into the world, especially for the first time, it requires preparation. We make room for baby by strapping in the carseat. We make room for baby by putting together a crib or bassinet, an entire nursery or even just a little nook for their belongings. We move around things in the closet to make room for the stroller and even move around chairs at the dinner table to make room for the highchair. New life requires making room in our relationships, our marriages, our friendships. We EXPAND for new life. We have to make room.

And just as I don't expect my marriage to be the same, my friendships to be the same, my square footage to be the same . . . I sure as hell DON'T expect my body to be the same. Why? Because I've given up? Because I'm going to sit around and watch Netflix and mourn my favorite pair of jeans? Because young moms are unkept and only wear yoga pants while browsing Super Target? NO. 

My cartilage, organs, skin, ligaments and skeletal structure made physical changes to grow new life. Just as we made room for our baby in our apartment, bank account, schedule, and hearts, I made room for her in my body. My uterus grew three times its size. It went from a the size of a pear to a watermelon. 

(You're welcome mankind)

That being said, new life leaves lasting marks. As it should. This isn't true just for motherhood and babies. This is true for new ideas and new relationships and new ventures. Anytime we enter into new beginnings, we have to make room and more often that not, our lives are forever altered. Sometimes it's drastic. Sometime's it's not. It depends. The same is true for our bodies and our babies and our genetics. Our bones may move back. Our skin might tighten up. But that's not your "responsibility." That's not a problem that needs solving. 

The creator of Spanx (Sara Blakely) is worth 1.02 billion dollars. That's a lot of money. That's a lot of money for creating something that "helps women" by suppressing, sliming and shrinking. BUT YOU WEREN'T MADE TO SHRINK. YOU WERE MADE TO EXPAND, both heart and body, soul and mind.

So for the love, EXAPND and rejoice that you have grown. In more ways than one. 

 

 

Lent Resources 2016

Hi guys. We observed Lent for the first time, last year. Though newbies we are nonetheless excited, eager, and hungry. Scroll past all these words and you will find some resources we have found to be particularly helpful; books, articles, and podcasts (obvi). We chose resources from a myriad of origins because they ALL have something to offer. Some are Lutheran, some are Catholic, some are Anglican and some are “non-denominational.” Lent is a practice that has been passed down through the ages and thus through the many branches of tradition. It is truly an ancient practice that dates all the way back to 313 A.D.

BUT FIRST! What the heck IS Lent? 

  • Lent is a penitential season. It is a time set aside to prepare ourselves for the celebration of The Lord’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection

  • Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and is observed everyday following, up until Easter

  • However most choose not to observe Lent on Sundays, taking a break from the Lenten disciplines

  • Some would say that Lent is specifically tied to Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness. Others would say it is specifically tied to the theme of 40 days throughout Scripture rather than one particular event. For example . . .

    • God flooded the earth for 40 days/nights

    • The people of Ninevah repented by fasting for 40 days

    • The Israelites wandered for 40 years in the desert

    • Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness

Why does Lent matter?

Lent is a physical, tangible way for us to partake in a spiritual process. In observing lent, our whole selves, both the material and immaterial, are involved. This quote says it best, Lenten disciplines are supposed to ultimately transform our entire person: body, soul, and spirit, and help us become more like Christ.”

Further down you will find a link for John Piper’s book A Hunger For God (it is totally worth your time). Within, Piper explains fasting to be much more than choosing to go without food. Sometimes it is no more than choosing to give up television, shopping, or a candy bar. There’s nothing too big but there is certainly nothing too small either. In fact, it’s often the smallest things that are the hardest. Piper writes,

“Christian fasting, at it’s root is the hunger of a homesickness for God.”

I don’t know about you but that quote makes me go weak in the knees. It also brings to mind St. Augustine’s poignant reminder,

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

Friends, if nothing, Lent is to bring us back to God. It is to create a stirring, a longing within. It’s to remind us that we NEED Easter. We need a Saviour who leaves behind an empty tomb. We need a Saviour who can conquer death. We need a Saviour who can both save us from the talons of lust and the talons of chocolate cake. The problem isn’t sex. The problem isn’t cake. The problem is our desires. C.S. Lewis writes,

“our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

When our desires are rightfully ordered, we can enjoy God’s good gifts as they were meant to be. Because of Jesus, chocolate cake is even better. Because of Jesus, sex is even brighter. Fasting is not a gnostic practice. Fasting is a Christian practice. We fast not because the body is bad. We fast not because food or New Girl or wine is bad. We fast (from whatever it may be) because God’s gifts are GOOD.

Lent is Solemn

Some choose to drape dark cloth over artwork, pictures, or ornamental items in their churches and homes. A dear friend who grew up in the Catholic church shared with us that they abstained from using the word “hallelujah” during Lent. That may seem like a minor detail but in Catholicism, this is a major detail. Singing “hallelujah” was a fixed point in their liturgical worship. The change in liturgy served as a reminder that Lent is solemn and a bit dark. It creates a longing for Easter morning, a day when we CAN shout “hallelujah” because “He is risen indeed!”

The Seasons Have Seasons

Did you know the Church calendar is set to coincide with the four seasons? The fasts and feasts of the liturgical year are not at random, they are so specific and designed to (once again) involve our whole self. The bleak of winter, the new life found in spring, the haze of summer, the harvest of fall . . . . it involves our five senses and creates a stirring within.

Lastly, we leave you with this synopsis,

The word Lent is derived from an Anglo-Saxon word lengthen or lencten meaning "spring." We are "to spring" into action, to do the tasks of the season, to prepare for the new growth and graces that overflow from Easter. Spring is the most important season for a farmer, for it determines what crops he will plant. Once decided, he prepares the soil thoroughly and plants the seed carefully, hoping that the seed buried deep in the soil will produce an abundant crop.”


LENTEN RESOURCES

Books

Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent (featuring authors like C.S. Lewis, Madeline L'engel and G.K. Chesterton)
 

Out of the House of Bread: Satisfying Your Hunger For God with the Spiritual Disciplines // Preston Yancey

A Hunger for God // John Piper (the PDF both free and found on the left side of the page)

Blog Posts

Life{in}Grace has MUCH to offer in terms of Lent, great reads, especially Me and My Self-Righteous Lent

An Ash Wednesday Reflection (for those of you who have trouble embracing the "doom and gloom" of Lent)

We love Carrots of Michaelmas. Great resources for families with little ones. 

Why Failing at Lent - May be Succeeding at Lent? A really encouraging read from A Holy Experience

Podcasts

Sacred Ordinary Days (great for learning more about the liturgical year in general)

Taking the "Womp, Womp" out of Lent // The Fountains of Carrots Podcast