A move and some change

Hi pals!

I wanted to let you know that I decided to make a few small changes to this blog: I’m focusing it a bit more on politics, culture, faith, and family. I also decided to host it through my own domain name and not wordpress.com. All that means is that if you follow my blog you’ll still see it in your feed but you won’t get an email notification and this URL will not have any of my post anymore. If you want to still receive email notifications when I post, go to www.quietasitskeptblog.com and subscribe! Easy peasy. Also, for those of you who have been with me for a while now, I have created a facebook page for this blog where we can connect more often. The links to that are in the top right corner of my new site. I’d love for you to come on over and to facebook and chat with me!

Thank you all for your continued support and conversations. I hope you’ll make the jump on over and join me.

Ashley

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A Hopeless Election in a Kingdom of Hope

On foot you will find that the earth is still satisfyingly large, and full of beguiling nooks and crannies.
-Wendell Berry

Are you all tired yet? Of the election, I mean. What a silly question. Of course you are. We are all feeling the political fatigue of 2016. It has been a long, gruelling, and exhausting road to election day. More so than I’ve ever experienced in my short history of voting. And since we’re only 3 weeks away from November 8th, the political tenor has reached a feverish pitch. I don’t know if you’re like me at all, but I love politics and I love even more to talk about politics. Researching, commenting, and keeping up to date on our nation and it’s leaders is exciting and stimulating for me. And I love a good debate. But not this time. There is nothing exciting or fun about this election or any of the discourses surrounding it. The world seems to have closed in and it feels so very small. Suffocating. Hopeless.

I hope that I have built a strong enough of a rapport and a relationship with you, my readers, that I might share with you the hope that sustains me when I’m suffering and struggling most. At the risk of being an insufferable evangelical, may I breathe a moment of hope and peace into your mind today?

God is a god of love, peace, and justice, and no nation, political party, or leader can ever fully capture the social, moral, and ethical concerns of the Lord. Neither conservative, liberal or independent can ever care for the poor, the widowed, the orphaned, the alien, or the oppressed to the extent to which God has called us. That is to say, there is no one way to vote as a Christian. There is no candidate or party that fully embodies the concerns and commandments of God. He is far too big for any political agenda or national identity. And what a relief that is for us because there is no morally right or ethical vote this election. I believe that there is only one candidate this cycle who has shown herself to be qualified, and fit to serve as our president. And as a Christian, this means that I must be very critical of her and our nation as to how we address education, poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia, sex, crime, etc. To be a Christian involved in politics is to not sell your soul to a political party or a national agenda, but to love what the Lord loves, and hate what the Lord hates. And there is no one issue that the Lord hates more than another, including the hot button conservative issues of abortion and gay marriage.  For, to love the Lord and do as he commands is to have a heart for those in the margins of our cultures:

“If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs…You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.”
-Deuteronomy 15:7-8, 10-11

This is our hope: that the Lord, in our great need and depravity, came to earth and died for our sins so that we might have eternal life with him. And through his life, death, and resurrection, he has equipped us  with every good thing that we may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever (Hebrews 13:20-21). This is the hope and calling of the Christian, that we engage courageously, thoughtfully, and critically in politics and culture with our eyes focused on Jesus. There is no nation in the history of the world that has lasted the entirety of existence. Every nation rises and falls, but it is the Lord and his kingdom who lasts forever. And this should give us great hope. Who are you to believe that any president can thwart the will of God? That his sovereignty and goodness for us and his world is not big enough to right the wrongs of evil dictators and corruption? Neither Hillary or Trump can usurp the Lord’s throne and upset his divine will. Rather, it is the job of the Christian to speak truth and life into all areas of our politics and cultures and to be critical of how we engage with the commandment to act justly and love mercy (Micah 6:8).

For those of you who aren’t Christians reading this, thank you. I am honored to share with you what it is I believe and that you would listen. I’m sure that there are areas of my faith that I need to sharpen my understanding and that you don’t agree with. But, even so, I hope that my faith in Jesus may bless you and give you hope in some way today; that we don’t have to put our trust and hope in any political leader or nation, but rather in a God who has always been and who always will be.

The Autumn Breeze

Why, hello there! Time seems to have slipped out from beneath me and I look over my shoulder and it’s October 5th. No, wait. 6th. Good grief. Around here the breeze has turned in from the north bringing the slight chill of autumn that we’ve all been waiting for. I’ve thrown open the windows to circulate the recycled air from the summer out of our house and have invited the outside to come in. A welcomed cleansing. But wouldn’t you know it that the time of year when I like to start roasting vegetables and bake hearty breads that my oven would break? I know, I know. Does autumn really come when ovens are broken? It surely does. I’m actually not in a rush to buy a new one. We’re in a stage of life where I’m not working and money is very tight so we’re trying to fix things where it’s possible instead of tossing and buying. Rejecting capitalism and materialism by force rather than by romantic idealism. Living the dream. Ah, but anyways. I’m adapting. The stove top still works, so instead of biscuits from the oven with our vegetable and barley soup last night I hand rolled a few parsley dumplings and plopped them into the pot. What a delicious treat they were. Our bellies were full and the breeze was wonderfully cool.

Last night after supper, after Ruby was tucked into her crib and the boys were showered, the four of us settled into mine and Jason’s bed with a few books while we laid around telling stories and tickling feet. Wouldn’t you know that Myles read to us The Giving Tree in its entirety, without whining or complaining, but with a legitimate desire to read and finish it. I teared up, not from the old stump giving its dearest friend the only thing left that it had to offer, but from listening to my son read. What a long journey this has been for us all. This moment has come at a sweet time for our family. As you know from my last post over a week ago, I went around the house in a fit of being fed up and unplugged all of the electronics. I’m a bit confused because the boys actually haven’t asked to watch TV or play Minecraft but only a couple of times. I’m wondering if it was actually us who pushed all of the technology on them for one reason or another. What a revelation that has been. If I hadn’t have unplugged the TVs, I wonder if we all would have spent the evening together in bed talking and reading together. A memory that wouldn’t have existed. Honestly, the children have been better behaved over all. They’re not as grouchy. They play independently without any prompting from me or Jason. And we’re spending such better time together. Playing legos, building toothpick and marshmallow structures, reading books, playing games, sitting and talking. And Myles isn’t struggling with homework and reading these days. I’m well aware that correlation doesn’t imply causation. But if the shoe fits and the sun rises…

So, here we are. Broke and happy. Content with a broken oven and reading children. As embarrassed as I often get about our finances and the choices that we’ve made to get us here (graduate school for both of us, heaps of student loan debt, poor financial planning, and me not working) I don’t count it as a failure. Something about the shifting breeze has settled a contentment in our small house. Sediments of rest and peace have dusted the earth. Financial security and upward mobility have lost its grasp and drifted away. I’d also say that my desires to be thin again, trendy, and less grey have gone with it as well. Contentment. What a sweet gift. I hope you all are feeling the change of season wherever you are and that it pushes in a peace past your understanding, as well. Until next time.