I Must Read All The Blogs
She thanked me and apologized. She had wiggling kids under each arm and was smiling in that, “this is great, but holy cow it’s hard” look that engaged moms often have.
I had to laugh. So I did. Then I thanked her for living in the real world, for ignoring our site for a season, and attending to the flesh and blood children she lived her life loving and serving.
That was at Inkwell, Story Warren’s family conference, and it happened more than once. Each time I was partly amused and then more and more bewildered at the pressure these moms were feeling to keep up with a blog.
Again and again I’ve had the chance to, in person and online, try to make one thing clear…
We don’t need you to come to our website.
Come As You…Wish
If the Story Warren site serves you, then great. Come! Come for a little while, then leave. Come back when you want to. Come back when you’re hungry for what we’re cooking. We serve up little meals thrice a week. Monday on the menu it’s Fostering Imagination, Wednesday it’s Discovering Resources, and Friday there’s something short for the kids. The kitchen is always open, and there’s plenty to eat.
Well, almost always open. You can help yourself to a massive archive of posts, over 500, but from time to time we will remind ourselves of the need to rest and disconnect from online “life,” which is so often just an imitation of the real thing.
Time Off For Good Behavior
We’re taking some time off starting today. We plan to take a break from posting new posts during Advent and Christmas and plan to be back near Epiphany (Jan 6).
The pressure to read everything online, to give our opinions about everything happening online, and to check in every ten minutes to see if we “missed something” is kind of insane. I say this as someone who feels this draw. I’m embarrassed by how often I slip onto the banal time-wasting that constitutes 90% of Facebooking. “I’m bored. I guess I’ll go on Facebook. What if I missed something?” We often feel the same way about blogs, and seeing them linked on Facebook or Twitter just sharpens our feelings of missing out. So we neglect another important, incarnated experience in order to scratch the inconsolable itch that never stops calling to us in the absences we feel.
But what if we just stopped scratching it? Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder?
Obviously, we think there’s some noble work to be done online. We do operate a website, after all. We do have social media accounts (excellently operated by Kristen Peterson!). While we are doing more in person these days (Inkwell, The Green Ember, SW Events in Your Town), we will continue to engage in blogging and social media.
But not for a bit. We’re taking a break.
(Amazing Facebook Art piece is by Pawel Kucynski.)
(If you’re new-ish to Advent, this part may be helpful. If not, skip it.) Advent is the Winter Lent. It’s a time of preparation for the coming (advent) of Christ which we will celebrate at the feast of Christmas (all 12 days if you’re up for it!). In Advent, we enter into the longing of all of history for the first coming of Christ to redeem the world, and actively anticipate with expectation Christ’s coming again. It’s a wonderful time to get focused again on what we are all about: kindling imagination for kingdom anticipation.
So Advent is a great time to fast, perform acts of righteousness (not to gain favor, but to express love), to pray, to gather our families to connect to the deepest truth, beauty, and goodness of all.
If your family is like ours, you haven’t grown up practicing Advent. So, we needed some help. A good place to start is just using the Advent wreath as a kind of clock. You light one candle each night, starting on the first Sunday with just one, and then adding one each consecutive Sunday. So, the last week you’ll have four lit candles and you can light the big white one in the middle on Christmas Day! The idea is growing light. The candles don’t have to have names. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
On top of the wreath, you may choose to pray in the candlelight, to read a passage of Scripture and/or from The Jesus Storybook Bible or another book. You may choose to sing a song, the same song, every night. You may choose to learn a passage together. (One year we memorized the marvelous one at the end of this post.) It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Daddy praying, the candle flickering, and the Word of God read aloud makes for a pretty potent evening of kingdom anticipation and longing.
Here are some additional resources you may find helpful. Again, you can do this very simply. No pressure! Start off small.
Behold the Lamb of God (Advent book) by Russ Ramsey
Behold the Lamb of God (music) by Andrew Peterson & Friends
and for Christmas…
Slugs & Bugs Christmas from Randall Goodgame
No matter what you decide, please remember that we are taking a short break here at Story Warren, but we plan to be back soon. We want you to know that you should feel no pressure to read on our site daily, though we welcome everyone to come and enjoy what serves them. Mostly, we want you to know that we’re your allies in imagination…we’re on your side.
And don’t lose heart. There are far better things coming than we can adequately imagine.
It shall come to pass in the latter days
that the mountain of the house of the LORD
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and it shall be lifted up above the hills;
and peoples shall flow to it,
and many nations shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall decide for strong nations far away;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore;
but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree,
and no one shall make them afraid,
for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.
For all the peoples walk
each in the name of its god,
but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God
forever and ever.
(Micah 4:1-5 ESV)