5 Podcasts You Should Be Listening To

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Hey all! Over the last year, I have gotten into podcasts big time. I listen on my way to and from work and while doing chores around the house. Here are 5 of my favorites that you should check out.

 

Women’s Work

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Each week Tsh Oxenreider interviews a woman in a different field about her career. There is really something for everyone – law, the arts, non-profits, and more. It is fascinating and inspiring to hear how each woman found her niche with work she loves.

 

For the Love!

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Jen Hatmaker fills this podcast with all the things we love from food to exploring our faith. Jen has deep, meaningful, and fun-filled conversations with each of her guests. Every episode adds a few things to my reading list and helps me engage with tough conversations in today’s world.

 

Fountains of Carrots

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I’m not quite sure how I first discovered Haley Stewart’s blog Carrots for Michaelmas but I was quickly drawn in by her takes on food, books, and the liturgical year. This podcast with Haley and Christy Isinger is more of the same and then some. A couple of my favorite episodes are #3 TV Shows About Dresses and #89, the most recent episode. The ladies interviewed Dr. Stephani Richards-Wilson about Willi Graf who was part of the resistance movement in Nazi Germany.

 

Reading in Church & Other Distractions

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Drs. Robert Wallace and Michael McKeever are reading through the Revised Common Lectionary in this podcast. Each week generally contains four readings – Old Testament, Psalms, New Testament, and Gospel. These professors from my alma mater share their thoughts and reflections on each week’s scriptures. Listening to this show reminds me of why I loved their classes so much, but with the perk of not having to write a paper.

 

Shmanners

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This is such a fun podcast! Travis and Teresa McElroy host this hilarious exploration of manners, etiquette, and culture.  They cover travel, hosting and being a guest, illnesses, sporting events, holidays, biographies, and more. If you have ever wondered how to behave in a certain situation, there is probably an episode of Shmanners to help you out. (Disclaimer: don’t eat or drink while listening to this show. Travis’ commentary may make you laugh and almost spray your mocha all over your windshield.)

 

There are a few others podcasts I have queued up in my Apple Podcast app, but these five are my favorites. They make me laugh, think, pray, and grow and I hope you can find something here to suit your tastes.

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How We: Plan Our Summer Vacations

How We: Wednesdays

I’m linking up with Mix and Match Mama and A Little Bit of Everything to talk about vacations!

At this stage of my life, my schedule doesn’t change much in the summer, so I am planning to travel more in the spring and fall during the “off season.”

Right now, I have a long travel wish list and am planning ahead to make the best use of my ten PTO days each year. My priorities right now are to visit family and friends, take an Alaskan Cruise, and explore Europe.

My first step when planning a trip is researching online to figure out costs and tentative dates. I then calculate how much I need to set aside each month to pay for the trip. The biggest expense is usually airfare but I use Southwest rewards to offset this. The next big chunk is housing. I have found my best bargains by getting a bed at a hostel – even in the US. By saving on airfare and housing, I have more to spend on the fun stuff like food!

When it comes to packing, I just think about what I might be doing each day and pick an outfit. The other tip that helped me is making a packing list while traveling. Almost every year I go to youth group winter camp. One year, I kept track of everything I actually used and that was my packing list the next year. Now, my bag is a lot lighter and I haven’t missed anything!

Traveling and exploring the world, though challenging at times, gives me great joy and these are just a couple of the ways I have streamlined the process so I can get the most out of my vacations.

 

The Servanthood of Downton Abbey

Reflections

Awhile back the book my church was studying asked about our perceptions of servanthood and how our culture has influenced those views. The first image that popped in my head was the staff of Downton Abbey. The dignity they serve with and the great pride they take in their work have stuck with me since the show ended.

First off is the way Anna supports Lady Mary throughout the show. Over the years, Anna shows great loyalty to Mary and acts as advisor as well as servant. She helps save Mary from disgrace and ruin, sometimes keeping secrets and performing tasks she may be uncomfortable with. Out of gratitude for Anna, Mary returns this level of care. After Anna is raped, Mary fights her corner through all the aftermath. In the final season of the show, Mary goes out of her way to help Anna achieve and maintain her pregnancy.

The concept of having servants still seems strange to me and I struggle a bit with the idea of a human hierarchy. The show itself touches on servants not being for everyone when Matthew struggles with having a valet wait on him. It seems ridiculous to have someone help him get dressed. But Robert convinces Matthew to keep his valet by pointing out the dignity and pride Molesley finds in his work, no matter how unnecessary it may seem. Over the years Molesley and Matthew develop a deep respect for each other.

Throughout the series, it is clear most of the staff would do anything for the family and don’t feel the work of serving is beneath them. The ultimate example of servanthood at Downton Abbey is Carson. His loyalty to the Crawleys is unmatched. The butler considers them to be his family, while still recognizing his place as staff.

While there is a strict hierarchy of roles at Downtown, the Crawleys never hesitate to meet the human, personal needs of their staff, which demonstrates that all of Downton’s residents have equal value. Everyone has a role and no role is worthless. Throughout the show, several of the staff leave service for other careers, and that is celebrated. But those who stay are not portrayed as those who have settled for less. They are wonderful examples of what it looks like to constantly put another before yourself. And in the end that is not weakness or inferiority, but a quiet dignified strength; a desire to do one’s best no matter the task.

 

Workin’ It Wednesday – Spring Cleaning

Workin' It Wednesday

Spring is my favorite time of year. The days are getting longer, my neighborhood is coming back to life as people get outdoors, and the air feels so fresh.

Nothing beats a fresh, deep cleaned house to go with that weather. March was a whirlwind for me, but this past Saturday, I finally had a day at home and cleaned my living room from top to bottom. My favorite products are from Norwex. All I used was an EnviroWand, the mop system and two EnviroCloths – one wet, one dry.  And when I was done, I threw everything in the washer. It has been so relaxing to spend time in my clean living room this week reading, watching TV and looking through my front window.

The other big project I want to tackle is washing my windows and screens. The plan right now is to hire a couple teens from my youth group to help. This is something I am thinking I will do more often for bigger tasks. The job is more fun with someone else, they get a little spending money, and it is great quality time.

I have begun to observe the liturgical calendar and for next year, I want to plan better so that I can deep clean my whole house during Lent and have it ready for Easter. I like the idea of having my house ready for the resurrected Jesus. I would also like to incorporate a not quite as deep, but still thorough cleaning into Advent to prepare for Baby Jesus.

My roommates and I are all fairly clean people, so the kitchen and bathrooms stay decent, but it is nice to go after the dust bunnies under the couch and scrub the shower at least a couple times a year.

Show and Tell Tuesday – Prom Night

Show and Tell Tuesday

Senior Prom Class of 2009 – no we did not coordinate our outfits.

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All my girlfriends were single so we just went to our prom as a group of ladies plus Alex and his date.

I’m not a huge fan of dances, so I was on the fence about going until I stumbled upon the prom dress I never knew I always wanted.

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It was beautiful, pink, and princess-y. I loved it. Now the thing is, I imagined having my hair in long curls and half back. I made the mistake of getting a haircut the week of prom and when my mom took the rollers out, my hair was about chin length. I was devastated and was refusing to leave the house, but my dad made me. Looking at it now, my hair wasn’t half bad once it was brushed out.

My friends and I didn’t get our act together and realize that driving ourselves in full skirts and heels would not work until about a week before prom. By that time, there was not a limo to be had that we could afford. So Emily’s dad gallantly played chauffeur and rented a 12 passenger van for our little group.

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It was high school, so there was a bit of drama that is not so fun to reminisce about, but we danced the night away. We capped the night off by singing Disney songs at the top of our lungs all the way home. Emily’s little sister who was in the van thought that was pretty lame.

A few of the teens in my youth group are getting ready for their proms and it is fun to reminisce while hearing their stories.

And finally – a photo of my brother at his senior prom. You can’t tell, but she is wearing pink converse to go with his blue ones. They were voted cutest couple.

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Why am I even doing this?

My Story, Reflections

There is something about writing that I find fulfilling. On a personal level, it helps me process the events in my life and untangle all the thoughts floating through my head. But at the same time I don’t want to write just for myself. I have something to say to the world and this blog is, I think, a good way for me to share. The question then is, what exactly am I trying to say?

I am a Christ follower. That is my starting point and my foundation. Above all I want to live my life fully submitted to Jesus and his ways. I believe Jesus’ way is about justice, shalom (which means peace and wholeness) and humbly surrendering my own desires for the sake of loving others and recognizing that everyone I meet is made in the image of God. Over the last few years, God has been teaching me that living into these truths means my life will look different than what I had imagined.

I chose the name Unwritten for this blog because most of my life’s story has yet to be discovered. (You can read the full explanation here.) Now, over three years later, that name has taken on deeper meaning. Much of what I thought and believed about the world around me has been unwritten; I see my community through different lenses than the ones I was wearing three years ago. I had to unlearn some things before I could learn certain truths about God and his world.

So, maybe this blog is about what needs to be unwritten to make room for God’s story. Maybe this blog is about how God’s story is changing the way I live. And maybe writing about these things will inspire others to examine their own lives and how God is calling them to partner with him to build his kingdom. Maybe. Just maybe.

I Used to Think God Could Love Me More . . .

My Story, Reflections

This post is link-up with Sarah Bessey’s blog, whose new book, Out of Sorts, came out this week. I am looking forward to reading her reflections on how she has changed “in response to the unchanging Christ.” Below is a glimpse at what that process has been like in my life.

I used to think God could love me more, but now I know his love never changes.

My journey with God intertwines with my struggle to overcome mental illness, specifically ADD, depression and anxiety. That struggle in turn colors my journey through school. Two years removed from being a student, I now recognize how much I let school consume my life. It was the source of my biggest fears and anxieties. My mental illness twisted school into my Goliath, my giant, and like the Israelites I was too scared to fight. I put immense pressure on myself to be perfect which only paralyzed me and led to numerous failures. While I may not have earned the best grades and fulfilled my academic potential, God used my experience with school to teach me invaluable lessons about who he is.

I hit rock bottom my junior year of college. My sophomore year caused some bruising and I hadn’t recovered when autumn rolled around. I attended my classes on autopilot that semester. I was desperate to leave, but I stayed because I didn’t know what else I would do. I was not doing my work, I was failing, and I was miserable. And I began to see myself, my whole being, as a failure.

My love for myself had become conditional, and that was how I began to see God’s love for me. It was so subtle, that if you had asked me, I would have told you I did not believe I could earn God’s love – it was a free gift. That is what I would have said, but that wasn’t how I was living. My worth and my identity are found in God, I would have said. But deep down, I was only worth loving if I was a perfect student.

Berating myself and tearing myself down quickly became a habit. I would go to class consumed with guilt over the assignments and readings I hadn’t completed. “You are a failure. You can never do anything right. You should just give up, because you will never succeed.” These are the messages I screamed at myself inside my head. Then one day I actually did my homework and came to class prepared, but the voices were still there. “You will never do anything right.” I had done my work, and I still saw myself as a failure. I knew then I had been placing all my worth and my identity in my grades.

During that semester I had been serving as a small group leader for junior highers. Almost every week that fall, the youth pastor ended his talk by saying, “God can never love you less than he does now, and he can never love you more.” Hearing that truth over and over again drove it deep into my heart. It was a spark that grew into a flame and drove out the darkness and lies that had nearly eaten me alive. Because I needed to love myself more, I had begun to believe the same of God. I felt unworthy and desired to earn back the love I thought I had lost. But knowing I could never be perfect kept me from trying.

I needed to hear over and over again that God’s love for me was at its full potential. When the truth that God’s love for me never changes finally sunk in, I was free. I no longer had to worry about being perfect. I no longer had to be fearful of not exceeding past successes. I could live in the knowledge that God’s grace and love are infinite so I should go out and do my best. And God wouldn’t love me less if my best wasn’t perfect.

October 2015 What’s Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday

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I am joining in on the What’s Up Wednesday link-up this month where I answer a bunch of questions to reflect on where my life is right now. So here goes . . .

What I’m Eating This Week

One of my roommates made Finnish Pancakes for a cultural event at the school where she works and liked them so much, she and I made some more on Sunday night. Yum. They are eggy, buttery deliciousness and I think I could eat the whole pan myself. And it is fun to pour the bater into a pool of melted butter and watch it all puff up in the oven.

What I’m Reminiscing About

I have been subbing lately in several middle and high school English classes. One of my favorite classes to sub for is a 7th grade Core class (Language Arts and History), which was my favorite class as a student. My teacher, Miss Holmes, was incredible and was great at merging the history and language arts elements. My favorite unit was on Cinderella. We studiedCinderella stories from all the different cultures we were studying for history and I was introduced to Ever After.

What Who I’m Loving

I have the best landlord. We have been having some plumbing issues and he has spent the last two days taking off work to dig a trench in our yard and replace the sixty-year-old sewage drain pipe. He’s a rockstar.

What I’m Dreading

I am not dreading anything, but I am ready to have a fully functional bathroom again.

What I’m Excited About

Next week I get to see my friend Ramya in Atlanta and attend the Christian Community Development Association Conference in Memphis. I attended CCDA two years ago and learned so much about how to do urban, multi-cultural ministry, which was then totally new to me. Now I have a little more experience under my belt, but I still have much to learn and am excited to see how God challenges me during the conference. I am also super stoked to hang out with Ramya for a couple days beforehand.

What I’m Watching/Reading

I am currently re-watching Numb3rs which I loved in high school. It has been fun to revisit these characters and it has been long enough I don’t always remember who the bad guy was. The other neat part has been recognizing guest stars who I wasn’t familiar with the first time around (like the guy who played Vincent Van Gogh in Doctor Who!).

As for reading, I am working through two novels – Lord of the World by Robert Hugh Benson and Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather. Both have been pretty interesting and though they were both slow starters, I am at the point where I really want to know how everything is going to end. Lord of the World is a dystopian story written in 1907, but set in early 21st century Europe. I don’t think religion is outlawed, per se, but it is restricted and the vast majority of people, and the government, hold to a secular humanistic philosophy. Despite this, at the part of the novel where I am at, the leaders of Europe are developing worship services to celebrate life, because they see worship as, “the deepest instinct in man.” We can say we don’t need God till we’re blue in the face, but he will keep drawing us in because our existence is completely tied up in him.

What I’m Listing To

L-O-V-E Radio on Pandora. Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Glenn Miller, Dean Martin, Etta James and the like. This music just makes me happy.

What I’m Wearing

Lots of dresses. They are easy, comfortable and I usually end up keeping them on even after I get home for the day.

What I’m Doing This Weekend

Halloween parties! Our youth group is helping out at a community Halloween party for elementary aged kiddos followed by a raging party for us. Candy and Chic-fil-a, what could be better? On Saturday I will be helping out at another neighborhood/church Halloween carnival which is always a good time.

What I’m Looking Forward to This Month

Thanksgiving! My parents are coming down to Fresno to host a table with me for Come and Dine. For the fourth year in a row, several downtown Fresno churches have partnered up to put on a Thanksgiving luncheon in the park. People sign up to host a table and cook a meal for ten and the party is open to anyone in the community – especially those with nowhere else to go. It is basically a big family and friends Thanksgiving with a few hundred people. This will be my third year and I wouldn’t miss it.

What Else is New?

I am pursuing a few career/vocation related leads, but it’s too soon to share details here.

My Favorite Thanksgiving Recipe

Last year I started experimenting with sourdough and when you feed it, you end with a lot of extra starter. I found this recipe that uses discarded starter and just shaped the dough into dinner rolls rather than pretzels and left off the topping. They are soft and have a great sourdough taste.

The Cross

Reflections

I wrote the following reflection after experiencing The 99 when they were in Fresno last fall. According to their website, “The 99 is a walkthrough theater that graphically reenacts the five leading causes of death in teenagers and young adults. Many of these deaths are influenced by drugs or alcohol and a vast majority of them can be avoided.” Seeing the horrors of the different scenes was a sobering experience but the one that stuck with me was the final one – Jesus nailed to the cross, gasping for his last breaths. Today, on Good Friday, lets remember just how much Jesus gave up for our sakes.

Jesus crucified. Nailed to a cross. Beaten, whipped. Violent, bloody. Horrific. My Jesus, my savior subjected to horrendous, unbearable violence. How can I look at him? His body broken. Broken in every sense. Nothing left. Blood pouring out. He gave it all. Who am I that he should care for me? I am his creation, his beloved. He died that we may live. To overcome the fear, the bondage, the cruelty and violence of this world. His death was just as horrific as the horrors of this world. Yet he was the only one truly without sin, truly blameless. Truly undeserving. He died for those that feel unloved. For those born into a trap they can’t break free of. For those who feel their lives aren’t worth living. For those too young to choose for themselves. The horror, the violence he submitted to matches the horror of what we do to each other. Father forgive us, for we know not what we do. Oh Father God, have mercy on us. You came down to our level in every sense. You let yourself become a victim of the worst violence and evil we are capable of knowing that you alone could overcome. Your life was the only one that would pay the price. That would set things right. I don’t understand how, but I believe that it is true. The cross is not pretty, it is not beautiful. It is violent, bloody and horrific. Yet it is the only hope we have that one day all will be fully beautiful again.