Allow me to take a moment to brag on my family for a minute. All my Christmas gifts this year were seriously AWESOME. No joke-I kind of want to dedicate a "my favorites" post to every single one of them. Even my two tiny daughters picked out things I use EVERY SINGLE DAY. I am literally surrounded by incredibly talented gift givers, and I'll be honest: it's intimidating. I'm more of a "words of encouragement" type of person, so Christmas with all its gift-choosing majorly stresses me out. But that's another issue for another day. Not surprisingly, books are usually 90% of my wish list, but then I have to add other things because according to my husband, getting all books is "no fun." (I'm still working on him about that.) The first book I read in 2016 was a Christmas gift from my husband, but also straight from God. I spent much of my "detox" time reading this book, and it was rehab for me.
Walter Brueggemann is not just an Old Testament scholar, but a poetic writer and a prophetic voice. It took serious restraint not to underline THE ENTIRE BOOK. In Sabbath As Resistance, Brueggemann gives us a closer look at the God of Israel: a God who liberates the Israelites from slavery, calls them out of Egypt, gives them a new identity, and lays out a way of life that is full of beauty and meaning. In this context, he shows how the gift of the sabbath is a powerful practice of resistance against a culture of coercion, exploitation, violence, and anxiety. The timing of this book in my life, of course, could not have been better, but I honestly believe this book is for every child of God, no matter where you are on your journey. It is challenging and insightful, and at the same time it is a cup of cold water for the weary, thirsty soul.
*Note: best read with chocolate. Just sayin'.
Ok, what I'm about to talk about could draw some mockery, but I simply don't care. Here it is: I have wholeheartedly hopped on the "coloring book bandwagon." Yes, they make coloring books for adults. And yes, I asked for one for Christmas. One might point out, "Don't you get enough coloring time with your kids during the day?" And to that I would respectfully respond, "Do you have kids?" Yeah, it's not the same. Here are a few words that might describe a half hour of "coloring" with the kids: Mess. Loud noises. Incessant page turning every time a picture is a third of the way "colored." Arguing. SO much arguing: over pages, over crayons, and over the way everyone is else is coloring. My kids creativity really comes out--creativity in finding things to argue about, that is. Anyway, you get my point.
Adult coloring, on the other hand, is like therapy. Serene, calming, quiet, peaceful, relaxing. I can think, or not think. I can talk, or not talk (I almost always choose the latter). I can choose all my own colors and I am the boss of my own page. (And yes, I do realize I just sounded like a precocious and spoiled 6 year old.) I can take my time. I can simply focus on breathing, if I choose. I can literally feel my heart rate slowing as I move the pencils across the page. It's sort of like "mom medicine." Obviously, any coloring book is awesome and will probably get the same effect, but I just really really love mine.
It has song/hymn lyrics, scripture, and quotes from some pretty great authors on spirituality. It's wonderful. True to its title, Whatever Is Lovely directs my mind toward the good. I don't know about you, but for me, there is a lot of temptation to let my mind dwell on the bad. Consider this book an intricately embellished set of blinders, keeping my eyes fixed on beauty and truth. As an added bonus, there is a Spotify playlist entitled "Whatever Is Lovely" that was specially created to accompany the book. Glorious. Please check it out.
*Note: this also pairs best with chocolate.
Speaking of bandwagons, I've been listening to a lot of Adele's new album...like every other person on God's green earth. But seriously, people. There's a reason for it. She's amazing. And we've officially become a vinyl household, so I'm going to be that annoying person that tells you listening to 25 on vinyl is a completely different experience. It just is. I can't help it.
So what have been your favorites lately? What have you been reading that you can't put down? What have you been listening to? Share in the comments!