March has been a massive month for me.
What I’m Reading
Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (Richard Rohr)
Rohr has been an integral part of my faith journey ever since I stumbled upon ‘Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life‘. His work undoes me and I see myself broken and humbled as truth sears my soul. I haven’t quite finished Immortal Diamond, but his insights into the nature of the True Self have inspired me and allowed me to see others with less rivalry, intriguing me instead as to the unique imprint that God has placed upon their soul.
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (Brene Brown)
I feel as if I should read Brown’s books once a year, in order to let her profound insights sink in properly. Her research into ‘wholehearted’ people makes me want to invest more into vulnerability, gratitude and joy. As a result, I have been challenged to engage more with fellow writers and bloggers and take risks that ‘previous Emma’ would have shuddered at. If there is one critique, I wish there were more personal stories and demonstrations of how the concepts have been anchored into Brown’s life. Those were the moments when I felt most connected to her ideas and could fully grasp the wisdom of wholehearted living.
Night Driving: A Story of Faith in the Dark (Addie Zierman)
Another ‘not quite finished’ book, but I’m loving the journey through Addie’s eyes. She is an exceptional writer, making mostly mundane locations come alive through her vivid linking of memories, thoughts and insights. I’m awed by her brave vulnerability and the willingness to share so deeply about her flaws and failings. It cannot have been an easy book to write (or release). Definitely a book to read if you are struggling with coming out of adolescent faith assumptions and willing to delve into uncomfortable questions of spirituality.
The Ethics of Authenticity (Charles Taylor)
Not light-hearted reading by any stretch of the imagination, despite the fact that this slim book is a departure from Taylor’s more dense academic philosophical style. Dave suggested I read this one in my analysis of authenticity and it provided phenomenal insights into the idea, distancing the notion from the more navel-gazing ‘individualism’ and showing how a journey towards authenticity can actually connect us deeply together.
What We’re Cooking
We live and die by menu-planning over in the Hughes house and the cuisine themes for this fortnight were Greek and Moroccan. The garden is exploding with eggplants and cucumbers and we used both in abundance this month.
We immersed ourselves in the tangy and hearty Cypriot flavours with Slow-cooker Lamb Salad with Yoghurt-Mint Sauce, Lamb and Olive Pizza, Jamie’s Spinach and Feta Pie, Moussaka, Greek Meatballs, Souvlaki, Greek Burgers and I experimented by creating a Lamb and Eggplant Risotto.
Moroccan week was a real hit as well. I love the feel you get for a cuisine by experimenting with the same flavour profile night after night. Cumin, cinnamon, paprika, cayenne pepper, ground ginger…. such subtlety of flavour, which worked well for the kids. We tried four different Tagines- Beef and Chickpea, Chicken and Preserved Lemon, Kefta Tagine and Chicken and Eggplant. All were delicious. I experimented again with a Moroccan risotto (featuring home-grown pumpkin) and with Moroccan Quesadillas (slow cooked lamb and chickpeas with a rice pilaf, yoghurt sauce and a salsa of sorts). There was Moroccan Chicken Curry and a Lamb and Chickpea Shepherd’s pie to round out the selection.
What I’m Watching
Monica introduced me to Miranda this month and I couldn’t get enough of her bumbling authenticity as she sometimes cluelessly swans through life, dishing out her opinions with plenty of sass. After a particularly bad night soloing bedtime, I discovered the British sitcom Outnumbered which eerily seems to depict our family (in five years). Jake, Ben and Karen may as well be Eli, Hudson and Ivy in their quirks, interactions and hilarity! Even Dave (who rarely finds comedy enjoyable) has been caught laughing at the outlandish (and oh so familiar) things the family do and say.
Pieces that Have Resonated
Every day, after putting each of the kids into rest time, I move through a half hour session of Yoga With Adriene and then collapse onto the couch to catch up on blog posts. It is almost as if I’m a silent part of a community of like-minded women, mothers and writers. So often a piece will arrive at the precise moment that I need to hear it, and I’m challenged by people living out their values in the ordinary, everyday moments.
Here are just a few:
The Biggest Hindrance to Creativity Isn’t Time (Heather Caliri)
Bad into Grateful (Chrissy Kelly)
Holy Curiosity, Questions for Painting, Questions for People (Johanna Schram)
This is My Story (Nicole Conner)
Easter was a big part of this month, with family gatherings on both sides. Mum outdoes herself every year in creating a themed Easter egg hunt, and this was the year of the Superheroes! The kids were enthralled, donning masks and fiercely declaring themselves to be in the midst of saving the world as they raced with purpose across the living room. Even the adults got a share of the loot and by the end of our rich lunch complete with a triple chocolate Easter cake (made by my sister Loren), I think even the die-hard chocoholics among us were hoping never to see another piece of chocolate again.
Of course, that feeling doesn’t last long and by the next week we were enthusiastically scooping Cadbury eggs into cups at my parents’ church’s Easter event. The Hughes side of the family gathered at our place and we participated in our third hunt of the day in the front garden. We shared a bountiful potluck dinner together and Ivan enchanted all the kids with his ‘magic’ tricks.
I was lucky enough to escape for a night for a dear friend’s 30th ‘glamping’ adventure. Despite being 36 weeks pregnant, with an active toddler, she and her husband constructed a tented getaway in the midst of a private forest, complete with white lanterns dangling from an old tree. There was wine, many types of cheese, gourmet pizza delivered to us, chocolate and a delectable breakfast of pastries, pumpkin and sage bread, avocado smashes, berries, yoghurt and muesli. It was bliss, apart from the fact that I earned the new ironic moniker of ‘Wilderness Woman’ after arriving with a plug-in blow-up mattress (that failed to rise despite the efforts of four determined campers trying for two hours), allowing my water bottle to spill throughout my luggage and leaving Monica’s kindly lent jumper in the rain on the hood of the car. Thankfully, the experience just provided us with humorous memories rather than anxious interactions!
As for the family, we’ve visited countless playgrounds, Chesterfield Farm, Sherbrooke Forest, Scienceworks and explored Mum and Dad’s new house as it is in the process of being built. We’ve had many dinners with friends, glasses of wine, and deep conversations about life and our rhythms at House Church.
Whew! March has been busy. What a great way to realise the richness of existence- by looking back at the memories, photographs and words that we create and were created as we do life together.