Green leaves in the background with white text overlaid and a white frame around

July 2022: ‘Things That Matter’ + Resisting Consumerism

We’re more than halfway through 2022. Wild, right? Here’s your July 2022 recap: 

Best Book I Read This Month 

Many people think that minimalism is about getting rid of things until you have one lonely chair sitting in your pretty empty home. But what if minimalism was about refining your life to live on purpose? Joshua Becker explores this concept in his books. Because I’ve been reading a lot of Becker’s work, this month is a two-for-one recommendation. Find out more about Becker’s Things That Matter and The More of Less here. 

Best Article I Read This Month

Shameless self-promotion here. July played host to Shark Week! I love sharks and I love writing – read the combination of these loves here. 

Tip + Trick of the Month

July was all about minimalism on the homefront. Have an overabundance of towels and blankets that have seen better days? Don’t throw them away – take them to your local animal shelter! As someone who has volunteered for two different shelters and has a shelter pup of her own, I can testify that there is always a need for more soft things for dogs and other animals to sleep on. 

Quote of the Month

“Often, Christians ask me, ‘How can I love my neighbor without misleading her into thinking I approve of everything she does?’ First, remember that Christians cannot give good answers to bad questions. No one approves of everything that others do. No one. It is a false question. The better question is this: ‘How can my neighbors know that because I live under God’s authority rather than the compulsions of my own selfish desires, their secrets are safe with me?’ The answer is simple: love the sinner and hate your own sin. Or, as Mark says ‘Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another’ (Mark 9:50).”

-Rosaria Butterfield, The Gospel Comes with a House Key

Kelvey’s Thought for the Month

As Americans, we’re conditioned to think that more is better. That is the very heart of consumerism. But what if we start to resist that notion? 

I know I have been harping on minimalism throughout this entire monthly update, but I think regardless of how strongly/loosely you hold to such tenets, there is goodness for everyone to find here. As of late in my own life, it has been a freeing resistance to consumerism. Do you know how good it feels to walk through a store and have my brain be thinking about how happy it is to not bring unnecessary items into my home rather than wanting to buy everything? 

Something to think about. Hit the comments or the reply button if you have your own thoughts on this and, as always, I’ll catch you next month.

It's Not Too Late For Advent

It’s Not Too Late For Advent

Do you ever refuse to start something if you can’t start it from the very beginning? I’m like that in a lot of ways, and that list used to include Advent. 

I’d think about it about halfway through the season every year and set it aside. The liturgical element didn’t seem complete without the fullness of all the days leading up to Christmas. I figured I would try to get it next year. 

And then the next year. 

And the next. 

And the next…

Finally, the year I looked at my calendar in time and stepped into the season with an aim toward intention, thoughtfulness, and slowing, I realized what I missed out on for all those years. The fullness of Advent can be found in even a few days. 

Ann Voskamp writes in The Greatest Gift (my favorite Advent devotional), 

“If, just for a moment, you stand in the doorway, linger a bit in front of the tree, it’s strange how you can see it – how every Christmas tree is a ladder and Jesus is your ladder who hung on that Tree…so you can have the gift of rest. When you are wrung out, that is the sign you’ve been reaching for the rungs. The work at the very heart of salvation is the work of the very heart of Christmas: simply rest.” 

And later,

“Stars will come in the night sky, shimmer somewhere. Advent will keep coming, this love story that never stops coming. Love like this could make us wonder. Somewhere, carols play.”

If we refuse to let ourselves step into Advent imperfectly, we ignore the purpose of Advent. To come, be with our God. To slow for a season. To remember for a season. To see things through His eyes for a season. 

C.S. Lewis once said, 

“When the year dies in preparation for the birth 

Of other seasons, not the same, on the same earth, 

Then saving and calamity go together make

The Advent gospel, telling how the heart will break. 

Therefore it was in Advent that the Quest began.”

If you haven’t been remembering Advent, or if you have still been rushing through this season, it’s not too late. It’s not too late to read back through the Old Testament and everything it said about Jesus before his birth. It’s not too late to sit on the couch, stare at the Christmas lights, slowly sip a cup of coffee, and simply let yourself think. It’s not too late to embrace this season with intention. 

Because isn’t that the truth we cling to in Jesus? That even at our worst, his birth meant it wasn’t too late for humanity to return to and be saved their God? Advent is time dedicated to rest in that truth – lean in.

cross at sunset with text

Thank Goodness Jesus Is Emotional

It’s hard for me to grasp that Jesus loves me. 

I can line all the facts up in my brain but my heart still has a hard time seeing the full picture. Part of it is simple awe that the One who breathed out galaxies cares for me. And, that sort of stunned disbelief is obviously rational in this context. Like King David asks in Psalm 8, “What is man that you are mindful of him…?” 

But I think my difficulties don’t stem from a proper feeling of awe as much as they do the cultural stereotype of the emotionality of Jesus. Think about it. We often paint Jesus as always even-tempered and calm, even serene. And it doesn’t feel like someone like that could truly and deeply and furiously love me; it feels more like they would just smile at me and pat my head. 

I can’t be the only one that feels uncomfortable when the perfectly tranquil Jesus that lurks in the back of our brains is contrasted with the actual Jesus of Nazareth written about in Scripture. The Jesus that was so passionate about honoring his Father that he flipped tables, the Jesus that wept over his dead friend. 

Portraying Jesus as emotionlessly tranquil is misleading and needs to be rejected. Not only was Jesus fully man, but he was fully God, and the strongest emotions of Scripture are used when talking about the Father. He is jealous. He is furious. He laughs. He is compassionate. 

And He loves. 

Thank goodness Jesus is emotional. Thank goodness his emotions are perfect. Thank GOD that he LOVES me. 

I was copying Scripture earlier today, a practice that forces me to slow down and think about the words, and this passage from Romans 8 seems particularly fitting to close: 

 

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? …No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35, 37-39)”

blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth

Blessed Are The Meek

Merriam-Webster defines ‘meek’ in a few ways including ‘deficient in spirit or courage’ and ‘not violent or strong.’ Even in the face of such definitions, the pop evangelists rush to tell us that meekness does not equate to weakness when looking at Scripture. But what if it does? 

And, what if that’s actually a comfort, not a condemnation? Continue reading “Blessed Are The Meek”

Exhausted Christians, consider this your permission to step out of the hustle.

To Hell With The Hustle: What Weary Souls Need To Hear

As culture screams at us to work harder, sleep less, and accomplish more, Jefferson Bethke has a very simple response: “To hell with this.” 

He’s not being flippant. He means it so literally that he wrote a book about it: To Hell With The Hustle: Reclaiming Your Life in an Overworked, Overspent, and Overconnected World Continue reading “To Hell With The Hustle: What Weary Souls Need To Hear”

Humanity doesn't need another household name - they need an everlasting hope.

Humanity Needs Jesus’ Glory, Not Yours

George Whitefield, for all his faults and sins, was a man who understood the necessity of a glorified Jesus for humanity. He once proclaimed:

 

“Let my name be forgotten, let me be trodden under the feet of all men, if Jesus may thereby be glorified.”  Continue reading “Humanity Needs Jesus’ Glory, Not Yours”