Archives for March 2014

The Big Boo Cast, Episode 33

Well, David walked in the room while I was editing this one, and after he listened for a few seconds, he said, “Saving the world – one podcast at a time.”

I trust that you can detect his sarcasm.

It’s the same ole same ole this go ’round; we talk about sleep habits and shoes and TV and skirts and Gap and travel and all sorts of other riveting topics – including the terribly controversial issue of clear bra straps.

Shockingly, we do not talk about our hair, nor do we talk about mascara. It’s like we don’t even know ourselves anymore.

You can click here to listen. Or here. You can even listen right here (I just realized that we could do this within the post; as always, I am about four years behind the technological trends).

Or, as always, you can subscribe on iTunes if you’re feeling particularly fancy.

Hope y’all enjoy it!

The Day That Frozen Surprised Me

Earlier today I finally saw this little gem.

Frozen-group-580x380

Now y’all know that I’m terrible about going to the movies; I always put it off because it feels like such a big commitment in terms of time. I inevitably wind up telling myself that I could write X number of words in the three hours it would take to go to the movies, so I wind up seeing practically nothing at the theatre and about two movies a year via iTunes. I think we can all agree that it’s a very impressive cinematic track record.

That was sarcasm.

Today, though, I was part of a little celebration with some of my favorite high school girls, and they suggested that we watch Frozen as part of our fun. I thought it was a great idea, but honestly, I didn’t really expect to watch. I figured I’d answer some texts and check some email and whatnot. Heaven forbid that I actually sit down and pay attention.

Well.

The first ten minutes of the movie totally pulled me in. I won’t go into details in case you haven’t seen it yet, but for me it rivaled Up in terms of requiring me to make a big ole emotional investment from the get-go. I was hooked – so I sat and watched the rest of movie, and I was completely captivated. There was so much that I loved about it that I couldn’t even begin to list it all.

But here’s what surprised me the most: the Gospel is all over that thing, y’all.

I have a feeling that there are probably lots of people who have written about the redemptive thread that runs through the movie, but I’m gonna write about it anyway because, well, it surprised me. If you’ve seen Frozen, you probably know what I’m talking about. And if you haven’t seen it, you’ll probably want to stop reading now because SPOILERS.

SPOILERS.

SPOILERS.

(I don’t know why I’m trying so hard to notify people about spoilers; I think that there are about 17 people in the whole world who haven’t seen Frozen yet, but ounce of prevention, pound of cure, etc.)

All righty. Here’s what I’ve been thinking about ever since the movie ended.

I should warn you that you are about to see me NERD IT UP.

I blame every bit of it on the fact that I was an English major.

1) “Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let it show…” is the world’s favorite coping mechanism.

It’s what Elsa learns from her father when she can’t control her powers, and then she preaches it to herself when she leaves Arendelle. Honestly, it’s probably default behavior for most of us when we’re facing a struggle or wrestling with our own brokenness. But it’s a bad idea. It creates shame, it isolates us, and it damages our relationships. Just ask Anna. And by the way, “Do You Want To Build A Snowman?” LAID ME OUT.

2) So much of what we think of as “freedom” is a counterfeit.

When Elsa leaves Arendelle and unleashes winter on her kingdom in the wake of her shame, she revels in the fact that she’s been exposed (“well now they know”) and decides that she’s going to be WIDE OPEN in terms of everything that she has previously tried to control. She’s doing exactly what she wants (“No right, no wrong, no rules for me – I’m free”), and it looks like she’s finally taking charge of her life (“the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all”). The problem is that she’s actually in a very beautiful prison of her own making. She thinks she’s empowered, but she’s more enslaved by her brokenness than ever. I should mention that you could’ve seen this same pattern at work in my early 20’s, oh bless my heart.

3) Our brokenness – left unchecked – will always affect other people.

Elsa breaks Anna’s heart early in the movie with her insistence on isolation. Elsa’s kingdom, Arendelle, literally sits in the winter of her discontent. And while Elsa tells herself that she’s just fine (“I may be alone, but I’m alone and free”), learning the reality of what she’s done to Arendelle is more than she can bear. Instead of trying to make it right, though, she retreats into her shame and lashes out in fear – and this time around, she doesn’t just break Anna’s heart; she freezes it. I couldn’t help but think of all the times I’ve tried to minimize my own sin and pretend like my issues weren’t my issues – but that stuff just has a way of welling up and seeping out and hurting the people we love, doesn’t it? Also, please know that I am very much aware that this movie has apparently touched a nerve in me and caused me to lapse into severe over-analysis and thank you for sticking around if you are still here right now because I imagine that I have reached staggering new levels of annoying.

4) “Only an act of true love can thaw a frozen heart.”

That’s the truth, isn’t it? It’s the Truth, too. (And how much do I appreciate the fact that the relationship between Anna and Elsa takes precedent over the relationship between Anna and Kristoff? WELL PLAYED, DISNEY.)

5) Real freedom comes through sacrificial love.

Anna never stops pursuing her sister. She knocks at her bedroom door through all the stages of her childhood. She chases after her when she runs from Arendelle. Anna finds a way up the mountain, she endures brutal weather, she walks up a seemingly endless staircase – and at every turn, she tries to help her sister, to walk with her, to assure Elsa that they’ll get through everything together. And in that steady, faithful pursuit, Anna faces rejection over and over. Even still, at the end of the movie, when Elsa’s life is in danger, Anna steps in again and lays down her life for her sister. That sacrificial love is what thaws Elsa’s heart – and when Elsa’s heart thaws, that changes everything. Sacrificial love ripples in beautiful ways throughout the movie, and my goodness, I can certainly say that the same thing, by God’s grace, is true in real life (1 John 3:16-18, amen).

*****

When Alex and I were driving home this afternoon, I was telling him how much I loved the movie (he saw it before Christmas), and he said, “You always think things are allegorical, Mama.” I’m afraid he’s right about that. But all in all – especially considering that the last movie I saw was Gravity, which seemed to imply that any renewal that takes place in the human heart is the result of sheer determination and will – I just thought Frozen was oh-so-awesome. I love that it has some real depth to it (whether the Gospel overtones were intentional or not) and the story has hung around in my head all afternoon and night.

The stories that hang around awhile are my very favorite kind, by the way.

Y’all have a great weekend!

Good Time Links & Fun

Well, I don’t know about y’all, but for me yesterday was the day when the allergies showed up and said, “HELLO! WE ARE READY TO COME BACK INTO YOUR LIFE AGAIN!” I felt like I was rubbing my eyes and sniffing all day long. However, I am not complaining because there are actual flowers outside and a forecast that calls for real-live sunshine today. So basically I will take all of these things over, say, the month of January.

Also, I got very tickled reading your comments about paper towels. I am always being just a little bit silly when I post about not-so-serious stuff like that, but by diggity I do like my full-size paper towels (which are more and more difficult to find without some sort of design on them, and that, THAT IS ANOTHER STORY ALTOGETHER). Anyway, my informal assessment of the comments is that people with small children seem to prefer the select-a-size over the full size, and that makes perfect sense to me (smaller people, smaller messes). It did bring me some degree of comfort to know that my fellow full-size paper towel fans seem to share the tendency to become BLINDINGLY ANGRY when they accidentally get home from the store with a roll (or even worse: a CASE) of the select-a-size. So this has all been very enlightening.

Anyway. Here are some things and some links and some more things.

– For the last year or so I’ve admired Rachel’s sunset pictures on Twitter and Instagram (at some point I hope we get to go chase some sunsets together). She has taken some stunning photos from some of Birmingham’s best-known landmarks, and about a month ago, she created a website that I just love: Picture Birmingham. Many of her sunset pictures are there, but the best part is that she’s attached a greater good to those photos. You can buy prints or notecards, and here’s the best part: all profits go to The WellHouse, which is a ministry here in Birmingham that provides shelter, counseling, and so much more to victims of sex trafficking.

So. If you’re looking for a great gift or maybe something special for your house, remember Picture Birmingham. The prices are super-reasonable, and the long-term benefits to The WellHouse are even better.

– A couple of months ago I mentioned that I’m speaking at the Allume conference this year. Well, tickets are on sale now, and I just thought I’d pass along that info just in case any of you are thinking about going. It would be delightful to see some of y’all there.

– The next Secret Church is Good Friday, April 18, from 6pm-midnight.

Secret Church – The Cross and Everyday Life – Promo 1 from David Platt on Vimeo.

Tickets at our church are sold out, but there’s a simulcast option available, and if you have a group of at least five people, it is super affordable. Plus, it’s just a great way to soak up some rock-solid, Bible-centered teaching – and this year’s topic has so much practical application in the day-to-day.

– I imagine that most of y’all have seen Kevin Bacon’s entrance on The Tonight Show last week. But just in case you haven’t, please do enjoy. The part that starts around the 2 minute mark makes me laugh so hard and reminds me of junior high.

Shellie and Trent Monk released a new CD called We Are The Monks this week.

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 6.10.20 AM

(I know that’s a terribly small image. I couldn’t figure out how to make it bigger in iTunes. I do apologize.)

Anyway, this CD is so joyful and soulful and good. Trent and Shellie’s harmonies are fantastic, and their message about love and truth and Truth is even better. For $7.92, this CD will brighten your whole week and make you want to see these two perform live and in person. Big thumbs up from me.

Hope y’all have a great Thursday!

Things That Could Quite Possibly (But More Than Likely Will Not) Change Your Life

First of all, chew toys.

Now granted, that was an odd way to start a blog post, but several of y’all asked about the magical chew toys that I mentioned yesterday, so I’m going to pass along that information before I forget. I’m not exactly sure how helpful this information is going to be, but I hope it’s specific enough that it can radically change your dog’s chew toy life forever.

I am exaggerating. Those are some high and potentially unrealistic hopes.

However comma the chew toys we’re using are called bully sticks (I think?), and I bought them at Hollywood Feed here in Birmingham. At our store they’re in a basket up front. They’re about 6 inches long, and they have three qualities that I like a lot: 1) they don’t upset Hazel’s stomach 2) they don’t have an odor and 3) they’re not messy. They seem pricy at first (they’re $5.98 each), but for a medium-sized puppy like we have, one chew stick will last her several days (and at night, when she’s getting tired, she will chew on one for two or three hours – she means business). There are larger chew sticks – some of them even braided – so if you have a larger dog, you can join the fun, too.

Here’s a chew stick (after a little puppy wear and tear):

IMG_1494

Here’s Hazel with said chew stick:

IMG_1496

These things saved my sanity at the beach. And come to think of it, the chew stick is saving my sanity right now because HAZEL ISN’T BARKING.

Second of all, pens.

Over the last year I’ve grown deeply attached to the Pentel Sign Pens. I prefer the blue but also use the black a good bit. I order them by the box from Amazon, and every single time I let someone borrow one, the reactions are like an infomercial:

“Why, I never knew that writing with a pen could be this much fun!”

“Wait! It’s like a marker, but it writes like a pen!”

“I only used this pen one time, but already I look 15 pounds thinner!”

(Maybe not so much with that last one.)

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 11.06.54 AM

If you are particular about your pens – and if you don’t mind writing with a pen that isn’t super-fine – I think you will really enjoy these. We use this type of pen for voting in our county, and that’s how I discovered them. Also, I am sad to say that I can’t resist a pun saying that it was love at first WRITE, and oh, I do apologize for that.

I have found the best prices for these pens at Amazon. And that’s not an affiliate link. In case you were wondering. Though you probably weren’t.

Third of all, paper towels.

This past Sunday night I ignited a firestorm of controversy (slight overstatement) (the reality is that about eight people responded) (but “firestorm of controversy” sounds so much more dramatic, don’t you think?) with the following tweet.

And y’all, it’s true. Those select-a-size paper towels make me insane. We’re talking high levels of deeply irrational anger. It just seems like one of those things where a company feels like they solved a problem that wasn’t really actually a problem at all. Because if I want a smaller piece of paper towel, I CAN TEAR IT OFF. Plus, over the years I have developed very specific folding techniques for a full-size paper towel, and those methods don’t work as well anymore because the perforations make me feel like I’M FOLDING IT ALL WRONG.

As you can see, the select-a-size paper towels have filled my life with difficulty and also confusion.

So. If you are comfortable sharing, I would like to know your feelings about the select-a-size. The eight people who weighed in on Twitter were mostly in the GIVE ME MY REGULAR PAPER TOWELS camp, but that might just be because those of us who do not care for select-a-size tend to be a passionate, opinionated people on this subject.

That being said, I trust that we’ll give each other a wide berth of grace as we examine this potentially divisive issue.

But if it gets heated, we could always order some pens or gnaw on a chew toy.

That’ll calm us all down in no time.

Hazelgrams

I made myself stay away from the blog for most of last week because I was really trying to focus on the new book. Honestly, I’m glad I did because the new book and I bonded a little bit. We have a way to go still, but yay for (mostly) uninterrupted writing time and the luxury of being able to think and the sound of the Gulf coming up on the shore. These are all very good things.

It was also a very good thing to have Hazel for company during those first few days when I was by myself. She is very much a puppy and sometimes makes me feel like I’m in the middle of Marley & Me; she loves trying to tip over trashcans and pull toilet paper off the roll and bark loudly and frequently for no discernible reason.

But she is cute as a button. And she is smart as a whip. And she is funny as all get out. Except when she’s biting.

So last week, in order to document the cuteness that is Hazel, I went a little overboard on Instagram since I wasn’t blogging here.

For example.

Before we left Birmingham, the folks at the pet store told me that there was a certain kind of chew stick that wasn’t bad for her and would keep her occupied for hours. Well, they were not kidding. Hazel and the chew stick bonded like crazy, and when she finally finished it (seriously – it was two days later), she looked all over the condo trying to find it. She was sad and despondent. And I became very co-dependent and enabling and WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME WITH THIS DOG I DON’T EVEN KNOW MYSELF ANYMORE.

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 8.08.03 PM

And then there was her deep and abiding love for one of the chaise lounges on the balcony. I’d sit in the chair beside her and type and type – and she would faithfully sit in her little spot and sun and sun. She loved it out there. I like to think that the Gulf calmed her.

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 8.08.44 PM

My friend Alison drove down to the beach with her boys Wednesday afternoon, and they were kind enough to bring my boy with them. He and Hazel were thrilled to see each other, and she still has not left his side – not even Thursday afternoon when he took a very uncharacteristic nap.

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 8.09.56 PM

And here’s my favorite. Friday afternoon I was sitting on the couch, trying to write – and I decided to walk out on the balcony to check on Hazel, who’d been in her usual spot. As soon as I stepped outside, she ran inside and jumped on the couch. When I followed her inside, this is what I saw.

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 8.10.31 PM

I’m sorry. But that is a pretty adorable dog.

So anyway. I don’t want to bore y’all to death with Hazel this and Hazel that, but she has been the sweetest addition to our little family. I’m mighty grateful to have had such a fun week with her (thanks to Scott and Rose, the best condo-sharing in-laws ever).

And I’m not even bitter about how she destroyed my favorite flip-flops. Or how she drank out of my coffee mug. Or how she attacked the hem of my yoga pants. Or how she tee-teed all over my foot in the elevator.

If she starts to go after my bacon, though, we may have issues.

To Rest Stop Or Not To Rest Stop?

We were coming home from the beach on Saturday when we crossed over Murder Creek, a part of our Birmingham -> Beach -> Birmingham route that always leaves me with a slight case of the shudders. Honestly, I don’t know what it would hurt to change the name of the creek to something slightly more pleasant (though I did understand the history of the name a little better once I looked it up on the Google). It just seems like it would be more fitting to cross Sunset Creek or Shoreline Creek or Palm Tree Creek or SOMETHING.

But Murder Creek? WELCOME TO PARADISE, KIDS.

Anyway, I was trapped in my need-to-rename-Murder-Creek reverie when we passed a rest stop south of Montgomery, and y’all, that place was COVERED UP. There were cars and people everywhere, and even though it was the beginning of or end of Spring Break for lots of folks in Alabama – which means there was more traffic than usual on the roads – I was just as fascinated as I could be. We rarely stop at rest stops; it’s not that we have any big fundamental problem with them, but we’ve just formed other travel habits over the years. I do remember stopping at a rest stop with Alex one time when he was little and I needed to change his diaper, but for some reason I felt very isolated and maybe even sort of afraid. Ever since then I’ve stopped mainly at convenience stores and fast food places, and I have a standard place where I like to stop – and where I feel safe – on most of our regular routes.

For example.

On the way to Nashville we stop at the Starbucks in Athens, AL. On the way to Starkville we stop at a BP in Columbus, MS. On the way to Atlanta we stop at the Starbucks in Oxford, AL. On the way to Memphis we stop at a convenience store in Winfield, AL. On the way to Mississippi we stop at a Texaco / McDonald’s right outside of Tuscaloosa. If we need to stop again there’s a Burger King in Livingston, AL.

But rest stops? Not so much.

So Saturday afternoon I mentioned my rest stop fascination on Twitter, and several people mentioned that they love a good rest stop since it gives their kids a chance to stretch / run around. It made me realize that we’ve never taken a super-long road trip as a family – a five-hour drive is probably tops for us – and I’ve certainly never planned ahead enough to pack a picnic lunch in a cooler. This last thing probably has more to do with the fact that I don’t really enjoy eating outside because BUGS, but as I read people’s Twitter comments, I felt like there’s this whole little piece of Americana that I’ve missed by not embracing the rest stop option.

So. I’m curious. Are y’all rest stop people or not? Do you even go one step further and pack a cooler of sandwiches and drinks before you get on the road? Or do you subscribe more to my method of having certain places where you like to stop for a few minutes before you move it on down the road?

I will be certain to compile our results into charts and also graphs.

Okay. Not really. But I am sure to be riveted by your answers nonetheless.